The b(r)andwagon for change
Wire your brand to the change of unconsumerism.
Supply chain issues, power outages, labor shortages… many disruptions have swept the globe and are increasing our interest in self-sufficient lifestyles. Millennials and GenZ’s are yearning for alternatives that are not harming the future of our planet and society. The tendency of people to consume less is transforming into ‘unconsume’, to combat waste and the destructive consumption model. Opting not to buy a product or service goes beyond usability concerns and experience.
Now, global issues resulting in uncertainty and losses, have led us into an ecosystem of scepticism. When public institutions remain absent and contribute little, people look for ways to take things into their own hands. And, they expect businesses (yes, that’s you!) to step in and fill the void. Perhaps together we can create a b(r)andwagon for change; a system without gatekeepers that is powered by -and crucially for- the people.
What if we all stop buying?
…we hear you think. How can our businesses still flourish? We advise you to rephrase the question to: How can our businesses still be of value, in times where consumerism is shifting? Can we brace ourselves beforehand against the impact of unconsumerism?
Before we answer your question in more detail, have a look at the trends we have become aware of:
SWAPPISM – People want to make choices based on unbiased information, which strengthens their local-first mindset. And while some are driven by sustainability concerns, many are looking to save money. The old barter system becomes more appreciated in order to save money, as well as helping more commodities to a purposeful destination. For brands, that could mean exploring systems where (un)consumers trade items for access to goods or services, such as Victoria Bitter, which is inviting consumers in Australia to swap solar power for beer. Or, Hyperburgers, an ‘inconvenient store’, which is a supermarket entirely run by (un)consumers, asking for anything but money as payment for the self-produced food.
CURRENCY OF CHANGE – Is your business not (yet) designed for literally exchanging goods? Why don’t you focus on what your customers want to achieve in life, and provide them with that support? Help them change and reach their goals. Consumers on a never-ending quest for self-improvement will embrace a ‘currency of change’ – such as discounts or vouchers – that can incentivize that desired behaviour. For instance, reward people that love to shop consciously with eco kudos for shopping sustainable products. These can then be used to support organisations like WWF or redeemed by purchasing even more ‘green’ goods. If you know your target group wants to maintain their fitness, pay them through tokens that they can exchange at multiple class pass locations, gym gear stores or juice bars. As for you as a brand, in exchange they stay a loyal customer, as long as the benefits are ultimately relevant to their lifestyle goals.
BRAND COINS – The concept of money has been disrupted, but that is opening doors for brands that want to dip their toes into ‘coin exchange’; A regular loyalty program with ‘freebies’ as we know them, but an upgraded version. Airmiles, hotel credits, supermarket rewards: traditional loyalty schemes are as old as consumerism. But new tech will empower branded ‘points’ that are so liquid they become currencies in their own right. There are already crypto exchanges out there. Who will create the marketplace for trading everything from supermarket points to Nintendo coins?
So, to come back to the answer:
Don‘t panic, go ahead with unconsumerism and ride that b(r)andwagon full of creative possibilities.
As a brand you can design business around barter deals, which empower people to do their best to save money. Whilst creating incentivized actions that bring more relevancy to people’s goals can mean that your customers stick to your brand. Change is difficult, so assist (un)consumers reach their purposeful goals. After all, we could all use some help with it. As well as the experience of complete freedom by using universally applicable brand coins (eg. by paying for groceries with Metaverse coins).
Overall, your value creation should embed people’s deeper goals in life. And, in terms of a ‘smarter economy’, set the purpose of your future business towards theirs. – So, what are you waiting for? Pitch for ‘unconsume’-strategies in your next board meeting.