COLUMN /
Erica twigt

A major dilemma that every retailer and brand struggles with is: why should a consumer buy from me or buy my brand? What is it precisely that makes my product so special? If your name is ‘Apple’ or ‘Disney’, these questions are easily answered. But if you’re selling a product without unique licences, you’re going to have to start looking for that one unique selling point.

If you’re a retailer or brand that isn’t particularly keen on being known for ‘low-prices’, USPs such as ‘expertise’ and ‘advice’ are often the first buzzwords to be on the pitch list. And with a little marketing embellishment, you then try to sell your ‘story’ to the world. Seeing as it was becoming increasingly difficult for brands and retailers to distinguish themselves in this area, they decided to go in search of a new ‘story’. The huge consumer interest in ‘living health-consciously’ prompted a lot of businesses to find their USP in sustainability, healthy lifestyle and the latest Super Foods. But will they get away with embellishing the story this time around?

We’re seeing an emergence of some wonderful initiatives, such as Kromkommer and Instock. Kromkommer, which started from a crowdfunding campaign in January 2014, concerns itself with vegetables that aren’t sold in stores because they are oddly shaped. Kromkommer cooks up some delicious soups from these deformed veggies and sells them through 50 shops. Another initiative that really puts food wastage on the map is Instock. This restaurant creates wonderful dishes from products that have been taken out of stock from various Albert Heijn supermarkets before the use by date is reached. These products may have some blemishes to the eye, but they still meet every requirement of the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority. The foods that are used to create the delightful dishes at Instock would have otherwise gone to waste. One downside to these commendable initiatives is their small scale; the average consumer simply doesn’t know they exist. Considering the positive intentions, wouldn’t it be wonderful if a brand like Kromkommer could become as successful as the ever so popular Innocent.

Innocent, so well known for its pure fruit smoothies and juices, once started out in similar fashion: small scale and based on a beautiful ideal. Not only do they want to make healthy fruit juices, they believe in doing this responsibly by using only sustainable ingredients. That’s why they only buy from suppliers who are socially and environmentally responsible too. In addition, they watch their own energy consumption during production in an attempt to minimise their carbon footprint. Although Innocent started out small, they managed to spread their story in an appealing, modern, even totally cool way. Their popularity has taken them from ‘small-scale’ to a large number of sales outlets on an international scale. A positive, healthy ‘story’ deserves a financially healthy future.

 

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