Environment, Food & Travel, Shopping & Consumption

Conscious Consumption and The Secrets of Marketing and Labelling

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When buying a product, do you accept things at face value? Do you look for labels like “farm fresh” or “100% natural”? What do these labels really mean?

With the right mix of words and images, of compelling storytelling, marketers can effectively make consumers want a product, or even make them feel like they need it.

In this riveting talk, marketing consultant Kate Cooper leaves the audience too stunned to applaud. So, give it a go and I’ll let you know what I took away from it afterwards.

While the issues tackled here include factory farming and labelling, which require a whole other series of articles for discussion that I won’t be getting into in this article, what I would like to highlight is Kate Cooper’s statement:

“The power of willful ignorance, cannot be overstated. […] and we only get away with because everyone’s prepared to look the other way.”

While this article reveals that Kate Cooper is actually Kate Miles, an actress working with Compassion in World Farming, an organization for farm animal welfare, her storytelling is compelling, and effectively makes us consumers question what we believe from marketing, advertising and such.

The biggest takeaway from this for me really is these main things:

  • For marketers / entrepreneurs / business owners
    Be transparent. With the increasing number of conscious consumers, it would be best to keep consumers informed about the materials acquisition, production process, and life cycle of your brand / product without necessarily sharing trade secrets. An article in The Guardian says, from the perspective of the consumer that:

    ‘”Conscious brands” must provide us with choices that meet our wants and increasingly better informed needs. […] They will also take the initiative and share more about their own practices to prove that their stated purpose is matched by reality.’

    And while being fully aware of each and every process and component of our products / services / value chain is a huge feat, it is important for us to constantly seek out ways to do business better as opposed to always choosing “willful ignorance” in favor of profit generation. Not every aspect of your business might be perfectly ethical / sustainable from the get-go, and the higher likelihood is that it’s far from that, but the point is to keep striving to do business in a mindful manner.

  • For consumers
    Now more than ever, we have so many resources at our fingertips to learn more about raw materials, ingredients or production processes. Keep asking questions. Yes, even the hard ones. The uncomfortable ones. Let entrepreneurs and business owners know what matters to you, and you will get them thinking, reconsidering, and possibly changing their product / service / business so that it caters more to you and the ever increasing community of conscious consumers seeking healthier, more ethical, sustainable, and eco-friendly products. As we often say at Muni, purchasing power isn’t so much the amount of money you have to spend, but how you can change the way products are made or how services are rendered by choosing where to put your money.

I acknowledge that no one is perfect and that perhaps it is not the easiest transition for everyone to change their lifestyle overnight. I also acknowledge that sometimes, it isn’t necessarily a “willful ignorance” but just straight up ignorance that’s the culprit. In which case, it pays to keep seeking to know more, and keep sharing what you already do know. This way, the conversation happens with more people, and you either wind up informing others, or you gain more updated information on an issue.

What did you take away from this?

[Editor’s note: MUNI is putting together MUNI Market Day v2.0 on October 25 and November 8, 9AM-5PM at Capitol Commons to promote conscious consumption by connecting consumers to merchants selling pre-loved, locally made or eco-friendly items through booths and informative talks or workshops. Here, we encourage healthy discourse between merchants and guests to improve their product, service or brand, understand limitations, and perhaps work together to create better consumer experiences.]

Jen HornJEN HORN (@nomadmanager) is a wanderer, writer, and designer out to build the MUNI community, create a culture of caring for self, others, and the planet, and make choosing better a way of life as MUNI’s Chief Collaborator. She is also a lover of handwoven textiles, and aims to keep weaving traditions alive through the use of Philippine textiles in modern fashion with her side project Tala Luna.


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