Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey – Barefoot Wine Founders

By Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey – Barefoot Wine Founders

Is Your CPG Business on the Wrong Side of History?

Is Your CPG Business on the Wrong Side of History? 150 150 MIchael and Bonnie Harvey

Since we created a popular consumer packaged goods brand, now recognized around the world, we’re asked a lot of questions about packaging. People want to know, “What are the new trends?” and “What’s the latest in packaging?” The “P” in CPG does stand for “package” after all.

In The Graduate, a movie released in 1967, a college graduate hears some advice from his father’s friend: “I’ve got one word for you, Benjamin. Plastics.” If we were to give advice to today’s college grads, we would add the word “alternatives,” making the greatest advice we could give, “plastic alternatives.”

Today’s market

“World wildlife populations have fallen by 60 percent in just over four decades,” according to the World Wildlife Fund.

The same report states, “In 1960, 5 percent of seabirds had plastics in their stomachs. Now that number is up to 90 percent.”

Wildlife isn’t just nice to look at. We’ve finally learned that it is essential for both the economy and our own health. Tanya Steele of the WWF states, “We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet, and the last generation that can do anything about it.”

With more and more reports like this being released, video footage showing plastic in the stomachs of seabirds and fish, and a huge social media conversation on the subject, is it still possible for CPG brands to continually whistle past the graveyard?

Before this starts to sound “political” or like some tree-hugging lamentation, let’s look at the advantages of favoring biodegradable packaging over single-use plastics. This is all about getting in front of a huge trend instead of being the last one to hop on board, or to miss it altogether. Any CPG brand that announces they are no longer contributing to the ecosystem’s collapse will have the upper hand in an increasingly information-savvy marketplace.

As consumers get younger and younger, with more life ahead of them, a larger percentage will be affected by environmental ruin. They are starting to favor brands that use environmentally conscious packaging. They vote with their purchase decisions, fighting against environmental damage.

Instead of just copying competitors that deliver products with single-use plastic to gain a cost advantage, companies that use alternative packaging materials can set themselves apart, giving themselves a halo and creating a base of loyal advocates in the process.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation warned us that, by 2050, there will be more plastic waste in the ocean than fish (2016). Instead of ignoring the elephant in the room, which in this case is filling our waters with single-use plastic, CPG trailblazers have the chance to educate their customer base, attracting more customers in the process.

So why not put yourself on the right side of history and lead the next big thing—plastic alternatives?

Risky business

 When we started the Barefoot Wine brand, we couldn’t afford advertising, so we made sure to support issues that were important to us. Early on, we made the risky decision to support the League’s Keep Tahoe Blue campaign to save Lake Tahoe. This was seen as a radical attempt at the time, hurting jobs, halting the economy, and being bent on stopping lake development.

But as time continued on, the lake’s preservation ultimately boosted property values and the economy overall! Our position on this issue was initially met with protests by realtors and developers, but our early support eventually helped provide the education that would change people’s minds. This created a solid customer base for us.

We were also early supporters of the Save Mono Lake movement by the Mono Lake Committee. Again, we were scolded for taking a stance on a “political” issue. But, once the Los Angeles metro discovered efficient toilet systems, the lake was saved and we were seen as heroes in the marketplace.

In both of these scenarios, we were on the right side of history. Our sales escalated and we gained loyal customers. Today’s early adopters of alternative packaging will be on the right side of history, too. They will set themselves far apart from their competitors. And the extra sales can’t hurt, right? Do yourself and your business a favor and take the high road—all the way to the bank!

For more, read on: http://c-suitenetworkadvisors.com/advisor/michael-houlihan-and-bonnie-harvey/

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