I’m blessed to live in a little known, leafy village in SW London. Nestled between Richmond and Kingston, Ham has a real community spirit to it. Everyone says hello, neighbours have tea together, organise weekly pond clean-ups, help toads migrate across the road. The highlight of the social calendar is the monthly balsam bashing party, where we brutally hack back invading foreign plants which attack our indigenous flora and fauna.
With all this community love it’s not surprising that when the Neighbourhood App launched, we embraced it, furiously posting pub quizzes, book clubs and mindfulness meetings. In lockdown we signed up for the ‘community care’ programme, flagging how we could support each other; picking up prescriptions, shopping, dog walking…balsam bashing.
But as the months progressed, Joe Wickes lost his shine, and we gave up learning Spanish. I noticed a shift in the dialogue. From supportive and caring to at best protective and at worst accusative. Instead of shout-outs to our frontline cafe and postman heroes, people were posting about the rise in crime, of feeling isolated and vulnerable.
This sense of growing fear and uncertainty tends to trigger two responses in people; to withdraw and seek comfort or the desire to breakout and seek new experiences – classic fight or flight. The pandemic confronted people with their innermost fear – the fear of mortality, it catapulted health & wellbeing to the top of their agenda, and they are willing to pay a premium for it.
During lockdown organic sales within food and drink went up 18.7% across March and May (Guardian, 2020). 30 years on from Mars launching Seeds of Change, and on the coat-tails of Covid, Organic is set to have the mother of resurrections. But the market has significantly shifted since the prime days of Seeds of Change. The Organic message alone has been joined by a sea of similar propositions, from Vegan to Plant based. There has also been a clear semiotic shift to something that was once wholesome, worthy, and elitist to brands that are joyful, abundant and want to put the pleasure into buying food, the likes of Rude Health, Kallo and Pukka Tea. This shift has turned new Organic propositions into lifestyle brands that cater to not only organic, but to many new modern motivations.
What’s still undefined for consumers is ‘why the heck should I buy Organic?’ Currently the benefits are unclear, made up of a loose set of values and beliefs held by the consumer; supporting local, eco-friendly, welfare protection. But at a basic level we are still talking about health and taste, or ‘me benefits’ first, supported by secondary eco/sustainability ‘we benefits’. Sure, this changes according to the category or market you’re in, Dairy for example in Finland, but consumer behaviour hasn’t quite caught up with their attitude….at least in the food and drink sector.
This being said they are engaged and listening, they are on a journey of discovery. The key will be to work out where your Tribe is on the map and how to unpack a genuinely motivating proposition for Organic beyond better, safer, premium. This blank canvas is an opportunity for your brand to take a genuinely active stance and deliver it consistently in an engaging, transparent way that permeates everything you do…I hate to say it, but to ‘walk the talk’.
HMc have recently undertaken some research into how best to position brands within both the organic and broader sustainable space. If you’re interested in understanding where your brand currently plots and where there is relevant white space do drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also like to read our Clean Living Trends article on our website.