Posts Tagged ‘Marketing Week’

Saving civilization from scented toilet paper – how to decapitate the Zombie economy

The idea of this post began with scented toilet rolls – Western civilization has brought us to this?

It’s an example of the complete and utter madness and waste done in the name of the consumer.

I don’t know if the manufacturers did any consumer research to show there was any demand for scented arse wipes, but they probably saw an chance to differentiate from the ones that don’t leave you smelling of roses after a sh!t.

Or maybe I’ve missed the point.

Anyway, this is but a small and seemingly innocuous example of a humungous problem called the Zombie economy.

A larger more offensive example is food waste. It’s estimated that 40% of US food production is thrown away and that food waste per person has increased 50% since 1974.

“Food waste now accounts for more than one quarter of the total freshwater consumption and 300 million barrels of oil per year,” says a study by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in the US.

According to the study, food waste also accounts for:
• more than one quarter of total freshwater consumption
• about 300 million barrels of oil per year.

I first spotted the term Zombie economy on a friend’s blog (H1BPositive). He describes it as “the massive brainwashing people are getting this century into thinking that if you don’t have a 50″ flat screen Sony TV, XBOX, surround sound, $10,000 on your credit card, an iPhone 3GS, 2,000 Facebook friends, the new Commodore and a 6 figure mortgage, you are not actually living”.

Just checked – got none of those.

But a lot of people do, or want to, along with scented poo paper.

And this type of behaviour is the foundation of economic growth – new consumer wants and needs are stoked by marketers to feed the never ending growth demands of business.

And does it make us any happier? Mostly not.

But as mentioned in a previous post There’s more to growth than more, more .

The Zombie economy represents a dumpster-sized target for opponents of economic growth. And they have a point.

Our desire to fill our lives with bling is not sustainable – we’re going to run out of resources to keep pumping this stuff out.

Turning the bling ship around before it runs aground won’t be easy, but there are signs that more of us are wising up.

As mentioned in a previous post (Kiwi authenticity – Crafars v Icebreaker) “clean and green” has been a huge hot trend in major markets for a while and on a list of micro trends for 2010 produced by Marketing Week was authenticity.

H1BPositive thinks this is an “equal and opposite force of the zombie economy”.

[Maybe not equal... yet - BigCake]

“As things get more fake, buying local produce, riding a bike (not a hipster fixie though) or going to live music becomes a life-enhancing thing,” says H1BPositive.

Dunno if I’m being overly optimistic, but I think Kiwis get this more than many other countries. (Note: H1BPositive is based in Melbourne).

As a gross generalisation, our lifestyle is seen as more important than possessions beyond the ones to put a roof over our heads, get from A to B, watch sport, cook dinner, catch fish…

Kiwi authenticity – Crafars v Icebreaker

One of the reasons BigCake is confident about New Zealand’s future, provided we get our act together on promoting economic growth, is that some international consumer trends are at last turning our way.

Our economic decline started when world trade patterns shifted from commodities to high-value consumer products.

But “clean and green” has been a huge hot trend in major markets for a while and on a list of micro trends for 2010 produced by Marketing Week was authenticity. I’d pick this will have a much longer shelf life than this year.

“Brand values have suddenly become important. When we consumers have less to spend, we want to invest in things that matter. We may have resisted the Nanny State implications of the last Labour-led Government but we did admire and adopt at least some of the values of the Rod Donald/Jeanette Fitzsimons Green partnership.”

I think that’s because Marketing Week believes the pair are (were) authentic, though both have now gone from the national political stage.

If you are looking for an authentic Kiwi story, you can’t go passed outdoor clothing maker Icebreaker.

It’s tied its brand to nature New Zealand’s outdoors and New Zealand merino – and used associated values to drive everything it does.

It’s so confident in the story it has got to tell, it allows customers to trace each garment they buy back to the sheep stations where the merino fibre was grown.

Garments have a Baacode (urrgh) which customers can enter on http://www.icebreaker.com/site/baacode/index.html and trace their garment to where the wool came from, including meeting the farmer, and following the production process.

This means having total confidence in every bit of the supply chain. Though bulk milk exporting is a totally different situation, Fonterra need to start thinking more like Icebreaker.

Meet the Crafars anybody?

Note – Icebreaker products are made in China which I guess was the result of a compromise between staying a two-bit truly authentic Kiwi company with manufacturing in New Zealand and its desire to be a truly global player.

If Icebreaker wanted to be a force to be reckoned with on international markets, the scale and efficiency offered by Asian manufacturers was the only way to go.

Another associated micro trend picked by Market Week was “prove it”.

“Because consumer confidence worldwide last year took a hit, 2010 will see increased consumer demand for proof – most especially by way of reviews from other consumers. More and more, we’ll look for peer validation before we buy almost anything.”

And just in case you think all is good there’s “local sourcing”.

“Food retailers and eateries will trumpet the local and hyperlocal origins of many of their products, driven by a combination of marketing spin and a genuine desire to offer sustainable values.”

But as I wrote for Idealog consumers will not automatically switch to local food if they believe doing so puts inferior products on their tables. A buy local campaign in the United Kingdom, targeting Fonterra’s anchor brand, and featuring former Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten backfired.

The campaign sought to point out that contrary to what many Brits thought, Anchor was not British. Market feedback is that when they got put right by Rotten, many regarded the news that Anchor was Kiwi as another reason to buy Anchor.

admin, 25th February 2010 | Filed under: Trends Tags: , , , , ,