We are entering an era that will prove to be an extinction level event for many brands.
As the 2020s dawn on us, macro shifts in the economy, marketing and how we live together on this planet are intermingling in ways that will eliminate brands that aren’t making significant shifts away from past ways of doing things and empty trends-of-the-moment.
The future is now because any brand not well down the road towards a modernized, inclusive and sustainable version of itself will soon be in crisis. In fact many are already in crisis. They just don’t know it yet.
I was astonished to see Coca-Cola doubling down on plastic bottles
last week in Davos. The company produces 300 million tons of plastic packaging a year, making it one of the worst polluting brands on the planet. And in response? Coke is planning to require 50% recyclable material in its packaging by the year 2030.
This is a half measure at best, greenwashing at worst.
And in no f’ing way is it acceptable.
We need better leadership from brands with Coke’s global footprint.
Of course, Coke is hardly the only offender out there but the point stands. This is a brand that is completely misreading our current moment.
The wellspring of populist energy around the planet has positive and negative consequences but it speaks to something undeniable: we are ready for change.
And brands will not escape that coming wave.
Consumers are increasingly galvanized around brands that are taking aggressive action to eliminate their negative impacts on our planet.
They are drawn to brands that have a purpose beyond profit. And we’re all increasingly intolerant of extractive, privacy-violating brands in manufacturing, in CPG, in the digital space, and in every other sector of our economy.
Here’s a prediction: there are going to be more legacy brands that vanish in the next decade than in the last three combined.
There is an incredible opportunity right now for challenger brands with social purpose and sustainability in their DNA.
A brand that can produce a product or service that is environmentally responsible, that respects consumer privacy, that actually makes our world better in some authentic way?
If they can execute, these brands are going to make an extraordinary amount of money.
Because they can be the bridge for consumers from brands that focus on commercial growth at all costs to a new sustainable consumerism. That could mean all of us buying less stuff, but also buying things that actually mean something.
Optimistically, I think these brands could be part of an effective Cambrian explosion
of new brands, a renewed wave of commerce suitable for the decades yet to come, rather than those of the past.
Of course, here at IOVIA we believe community (in both its digital and offline forms) will animate the next great local and global brands. And we’ll have more to say on this topic in our next radar. But here’s a teaser:
Companies have an unprecedented opportunity to create a place for people to gather around their brands, but the price of entry is high: it requires authenticity and responsibility, even when it’s inconvenient or hits the bottom line.
Give people a reason to believe and belong and they’ll be your greatest advocates in the market.
For many brands, this is the promise of the 2020s. For others, it’s the threat.