Sustainability is sexy. A global survey conducted in 2018 by Accenture Strategy polled 30,000 consumers across 35 countries, and nearly two-thirds of respondents said brands that value ethics are attractive to them.
Unfortunately, many consumers associate luxury brands with wastefulness, self-indulgence, and environmental issues.
So, how do you make your luxury company come across as ethical? As a luxury brand, it can be tricky.
Adopting fair labor practices and using organic or recycled material can go along way to ease consumers fears, but you will want to make sure the latter doesn’t take away from the “luxury,” part of your product.
And, yes, it is important to be sustainable and eco-friendly, but you still need to protect the “luxury,” part of your brand. Further, you don’t want to come across as disingenuous in your approach or be accused of “greenwashing.”
Not to mention, there are already a lot of non-luxury companies who have made being sustainable and eco-friendly a large part of their marketing and branding. It is unlikely your luxury brand will be able to compete with that while still standing out as more luxurious.
The answer? Be authentic. Stay true to yourself and your brand, be honest about how and why you operate the way that you do, and, of course, don’t go out of your way to do wrong by the environment.
The two primary ways a consumer will decide if a brand as authentic, according to a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, is if they are able to claim to be original, genuine, or true to its inspiration. This is determined by using two types of clues: indexical and iconic.
Indexical cues occur when a brand makes a direct connection with the source of its material. For example, if a piece of luxury furniture claims to be designed by an artist from France, using French wood and silk will prove to the consumer that it is a truly authentic product.
An iconic cue, meanwhile, is if your product is a reproduction or revamped version of a past product. If you are able to reproduce something correctly and accurately, consumers will feel like you are being authentic and true to the original vision, instead of doing a disservice to it.
Question of Ethics
With that said, while consumers will view brands who use indexical cues and iconic cues as similarly authentic, they won’t view them as equally ethical.
Consumers are more drawn to brand that use indexical cues, and, what it comes down to, is the passion that comes from creating an original piece of work. Consumers sense that when you make something completely and entirely your own that there is a sense of love that goes into it that can’t be replicated by simply making a copy.
Further, the belief is that, since you are putting so much love and care into your product, it is assumed you went about creating it in an ethical manner, since anything less would fall short of your presumed expectations.
So, if you really want consumers to embrace your product as ethical, it is best for you to be open and honest with them about its origins. Let them know you have a deep relationship with your brand, and make sure to emphasize that you care deeply about its tradition, historic roots, and dedicated craftsmanship.
Finally, don’t live in the past. Be forward-thinking and innovative while embracing your companies roots and heritage. Dedicate yourself to the artistic community, use only the highest quality materials, and take advantage of everything consumer’s desire.