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Sustainable, safe and secure

The three S's are a necessary condition for brand building in the packaged foods industry

Rukmini Gupte 

rukmini
Rukmini Gupte

One can’t work in the industry today and be unmindful of the many issues around sustainability that impact brand owners and consumers. While there is no longer any debate about the responsibility of manufacturers in this respect, there is often an unspoken ‘belief’ that for emerging markets (Asia and Africa) the urgency of feeding millions takes precedence over any other consideration. Nothing could be further from the truth.

True sustainability is not a luxury. In fact, the real impact of the value chain on consumers down the socio-economic strata in these geographies is far more tangible and immediate than the ‘feel good’ pay-offs that brands can offer to the elite in these markets. 

Not meeting with the sustainability standards has consequences. The brand may be violating safety standards if it willfully ignores sustainability safeguards in production or packaging or distribution practices. Using quick-fix inputs to boost productivity or falsely enhance taste/texture can, not only harm the producing eco-system, it can actually penalise the consumer by imposing a short or long -term health penalty.

Designing a low cost offer of a sugar filled confectionery/that is coloured with harmful additives and packed in non-recyclable material is no longer a winning formula. Not only is such a brand irresponsible, it is also guilty of the greatest marketing sin of all: disrespecting the consumer and hoping that she will not recognise that the brand thinks her/family’s/her habitat’s health and safety can be compromised  because her wallet is limited. 

food
This is actually a liberating and not a limiting scenario. It will force marketers to innovate and push boundaries to come up with safe and solutions that delight the low income consumer. 

The other watch-out is whether the brand is destroying or upholding security. In developing markets like India, companies must be extra vigilant about protecting the rights of commodity producers and ensuring responsible management of resources like water. An obvious implication of such mindfulness is the opportunity of branding traditional foods to make their benefits available in a contemporary and aspirational mix. Quinoa, a nutrient-dense staple of peasants in South America, has today become a supermarket darling. There are countless such ‘quinoas’ to choose from the various regions of India. Brands could leverage these grains/foods/crops and create great value for producers and the health-conscious, variety seeking, upwardly mobile consumers. But, in doing so, they must be conscious to protect the rights of those for whom these ‘superfoods’ are a staple and daily necessity. There is no long-term gain to be had by creating brands that ultimately risk security. 

Brands can lead the market and the consumer in creating new standards whether in supply chain or labelling or educating different stakeholders on these three S’s. The reward will not only be from the regulators, forward-thinking investors and influential opinion leaders but also from the consumer herself in terms of loyalty that endures. 

So, whether we are designing a brand for the affluent urban Indian who is abreast of all the latest trends in San Francisco or Copenhagen or reaching out to the mother in a hamlet trying to feed her brood the best she can, it is critical to check whether the brand ticks the boxes of: sustainability, safety and security!


The author is brand strategist and consultant with Healthy Marketing

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Sustainable, safe and secure

The three S's are a necessary condition for brand building in the packaged foods industry

The three S's are a necessary condition for brand building in the packaged foods industry
One can’t work in the industry today and be unmindful of the many issues around sustainability that impact brand owners and consumers. While there is no longer any debate about the responsibility of manufacturers in this respect, there is often an unspoken ‘belief’ that for emerging markets (Asia and Africa) the urgency of feeding millions takes precedence over any other consideration. Nothing could be further from the truth.

True sustainability is not a luxury. In fact, the real impact of the value chain on consumers down the socio-economic strata in these geographies is far more tangible and immediate than the ‘feel good’ pay-offs that brands can offer to the elite in these markets. 

Not meeting with the sustainability standards has consequences. The brand may be violating safety standards if it willfully ignores sustainability safeguards in production or packaging or distribution practices. Using quick-fix inputs to boost productivity or falsely enhance taste/texture can, not only harm the producing eco-system, it can actually penalise the consumer by imposing a short or long -term health penalty.

Designing a low cost offer of a sugar filled confectionery/that is coloured with harmful additives and packed in non-recyclable material is no longer a winning formula. Not only is such a brand irresponsible, it is also guilty of the greatest marketing sin of all: disrespecting the consumer and hoping that she will not recognise that the brand thinks her/family’s/her habitat’s health and safety can be compromised  because her wallet is limited. 

food
This is actually a liberating and not a limiting scenario. It will force marketers to innovate and push boundaries to come up with safe and solutions that delight the low income consumer. 

The other watch-out is whether the brand is destroying or upholding security. In developing markets like India, companies must be extra vigilant about protecting the rights of commodity producers and ensuring responsible management of resources like water. An obvious implication of such mindfulness is the opportunity of branding traditional foods to make their benefits available in a contemporary and aspirational mix. Quinoa, a nutrient-dense staple of peasants in South America, has today become a supermarket darling. There are countless such ‘quinoas’ to choose from the various regions of India. Brands could leverage these grains/foods/crops and create great value for producers and the health-conscious, variety seeking, upwardly mobile consumers. But, in doing so, they must be conscious to protect the rights of those for whom these ‘superfoods’ are a staple and daily necessity. There is no long-term gain to be had by creating brands that ultimately risk security. 

Brands can lead the market and the consumer in creating new standards whether in supply chain or labelling or educating different stakeholders on these three S’s. The reward will not only be from the regulators, forward-thinking investors and influential opinion leaders but also from the consumer herself in terms of loyalty that endures. 

So, whether we are designing a brand for the affluent urban Indian who is abreast of all the latest trends in San Francisco or Copenhagen or reaching out to the mother in a hamlet trying to feed her brood the best she can, it is critical to check whether the brand ticks the boxes of: sustainability, safety and security!


The author is brand strategist and consultant with Healthy Marketing

image
Business Standard
177 22

Sustainable, safe and secure

The three S's are a necessary condition for brand building in the packaged foods industry

One can’t work in the industry today and be unmindful of the many issues around sustainability that impact brand owners and consumers. While there is no longer any debate about the responsibility of manufacturers in this respect, there is often an unspoken ‘belief’ that for emerging markets (Asia and Africa) the urgency of feeding millions takes precedence over any other consideration. Nothing could be further from the truth.

True sustainability is not a luxury. In fact, the real impact of the value chain on consumers down the socio-economic strata in these geographies is far more tangible and immediate than the ‘feel good’ pay-offs that brands can offer to the elite in these markets. 

Not meeting with the sustainability standards has consequences. The brand may be violating safety standards if it willfully ignores sustainability safeguards in production or packaging or distribution practices. Using quick-fix inputs to boost productivity or falsely enhance taste/texture can, not only harm the producing eco-system, it can actually penalise the consumer by imposing a short or long -term health penalty.

Designing a low cost offer of a sugar filled confectionery/that is coloured with harmful additives and packed in non-recyclable material is no longer a winning formula. Not only is such a brand irresponsible, it is also guilty of the greatest marketing sin of all: disrespecting the consumer and hoping that she will not recognise that the brand thinks her/family’s/her habitat’s health and safety can be compromised  because her wallet is limited. 

food
This is actually a liberating and not a limiting scenario. It will force marketers to innovate and push boundaries to come up with safe and solutions that delight the low income consumer. 

The other watch-out is whether the brand is destroying or upholding security. In developing markets like India, companies must be extra vigilant about protecting the rights of commodity producers and ensuring responsible management of resources like water. An obvious implication of such mindfulness is the opportunity of branding traditional foods to make their benefits available in a contemporary and aspirational mix. Quinoa, a nutrient-dense staple of peasants in South America, has today become a supermarket darling. There are countless such ‘quinoas’ to choose from the various regions of India. Brands could leverage these grains/foods/crops and create great value for producers and the health-conscious, variety seeking, upwardly mobile consumers. But, in doing so, they must be conscious to protect the rights of those for whom these ‘superfoods’ are a staple and daily necessity. There is no long-term gain to be had by creating brands that ultimately risk security. 

Brands can lead the market and the consumer in creating new standards whether in supply chain or labelling or educating different stakeholders on these three S’s. The reward will not only be from the regulators, forward-thinking investors and influential opinion leaders but also from the consumer herself in terms of loyalty that endures. 

So, whether we are designing a brand for the affluent urban Indian who is abreast of all the latest trends in San Francisco or Copenhagen or reaching out to the mother in a hamlet trying to feed her brood the best she can, it is critical to check whether the brand ticks the boxes of: sustainability, safety and security!


The author is brand strategist and consultant with Healthy Marketing

image
Business Standard
177 22