Amid a chat / brainstorm with friends within the ecommerce space, I thought I'd struck gold mid-conversation by coming up with the term 'ECO-mmerce' to reference the actions of purpose-driven brands within the online shopping space.
A few searches later and it seems DHL has beaten me to that term, but I would like to discuss the prospect of a different way of shopping. As DHL has covered the eco-transportation side of things, I wanted to tackle this more about how we, collectively, combat mass-consumerism, and how we, as marketing agencies and e-commerce businesses alike, have the responsibility to change the narrative.
Marketing firms have received a lot of stick of the years, and rightly so. More often than not, if you think of 'agency' you think of slimy characters doing the very best they can to shaft both their clients and their clients' customers.
To put it plainly, agencies don't have good rep. The number of companies we chat with that got mediocre results from agencies is incredible. I'm not talking results like my ROAS is bigger than your ROAS flexing here, but simply that these cookie-cutter agencies don't even LISTEN to their client to figure out what pain points they're trying to solve, nor what message they're wanting to get across.
It's all about pushing more, more, more.
I'd be bold enough to say that marketing firms, partnered with an emotionally needy population, have single-handedly created the mass-consumerism and subsequent wastefulness we see in the planet today.
Relating back to where I was going before this tangent and what I mentioned first - we marketing firms have a responsibility to pave the new way of consumerism and buying habits.
The direction we've been headed in of more and more, faster and faster, is not sustainable. This is where we believe ECO-mmerce comes in.
We live in a collective narrative, or status quo as some may call it, that dictates we must live a certain consumerist, fast-paced lifestyle. Marketing companies and brands alike are continuing to promote it, either in ignorance of another way of doing things, or in continuous pursuit to upkeep it to benefit them.
At what point can this change?
How do we begin to see a way of doing things that:
a) can keep up with our new living demands, but
b) we actually feel good about?
Most people don't feel good for having 'buy more' ads thrown in their faces. Nearly 3 out of every 4 users (74%) think there are too many ads. The number grows to 78% for adults 35+ years old (SurveyMonkey).
Likewise, I don't think anyone really feels good after purchasing something from Amazon. However, we've lost the time to be able to pop down to a local store and actually interact with someone. Having moved across the pond from Italy to the US a mere 6 months ago, especially post-pandemic, these interactions with other human beings are both a blessing and a joy, and we seek them out as much as possible vs making a quick purchase.
In the digital space though, how can we bridge the gap between timeliness, connectivity, and teaching people a more sustainable way of doing things?
I think the answer lies in how brands choose to sell, and how they talk about it. Turn off the majority of an e-commerce brand's ads and they won't last long. They have to continuously throw more 'buy more' ads in people's faces until someone converts.
It seems like we've lost the understanding of the 80/20 rule - 80% value, 20% CTA. Most brands are running 100% CTA, 0% value. They don't know their audience further than Meta's Ad Manager interests targeting. They don't care to give anything of value to them in fear that they don't see an immediate ROI/ROAS.
For most e-commerce brands, there doesn't seem to be an investment in future long-term growth, but instead in short-term results. The latter will only get you so far, but if you want to not only gain brand loyalty but try and pave a new way in combatting the wastefulness on this planet, then long-term sustainable marketing is key.
It'll be the brands investing in value & story that will come out this looming economic recession 10x stronger than the rest. It'll be brands like these that start to pave the way for a new way of communicating and doing business online.
Narrative change within the e-commerce space takes time, but trust starts with brands sitting down to understand where they are (and communicating it honestly, no greenwashing please), where they want to go (and sharing that vision), and who they plan to collaborate with along the way to make it happen (so people can actually see whether they fit into that story).
One brand that has caught our eye recently is Buyr. The Boulder-based startup is not only revolutionizing how the consumer makes a purchase, on their own terms, but has a deep, internal purpose-driven message to create a more sustainable way of doing e-commerce.
Their desire to bring communities together through their purchases is a noble one, combatting long distance postage, while connecting the buyer to local sellers near them.
Buying better quality, less often, can be the first step one can take to start making a difference. Having lived in Italy for many years, this lesson clearly had not been learned. Every 6-12 months the local 'comune' would pave the roads with the worst quality of asphalt. 6 months later this asphalt had been damaged due to a mix of poor quality and tough weather conditions. This cycle would repeat, with more money spent and more labor wasted on something that could have been mitigated by investing in something a touch more expensive.
Scarcity mindset only gets you so far. If we're not taught an alternative, then we'll stay in that mindset.
To add to your better-quality investment, when you buy locally through companies like Buyr, you make the most of the investments DHL and other courier companies are currently making for eco options in 'Last Mile Delivery'.
Post-pandemic supply chain issues have put the focus more on warehouse deliveries vs brick and mortar stores. Local businesses are taking a hit, and companies like Buyr are the modern-day Robin Hood (no, not the trading platform), taking a little bit of market share and giving it back to those that need it. But if we don't know this information without digging deeper, then change will be slow.
We need more stories of the people affected by modern-day consumerism & e-commerce. We need more stories from the e-commerce brands bold enough to choose a different path. We need more stories to educate us as to why this is important. We need more stories so people can visualize themselves doing things differently.
Stories involve people, so when story is utilized, brands that seemed corporate and cold are now full of heart and humanness. Humanness will lead the new way of e-commerce, as true humanness has time to care, and time to connect.
Modern commerce is less personal, less sustainable, however more efficient. If we want to reconnect with ourselves, each other, our products, and the planet, then fast-paced efficiency isn't the answer. Utilizing technology, whether through battery powered vans, clever online algorithms, or digital storytelling marketing campaigns, can help us return to a healthy form of connection and 'efficiency'.
For more information about how you can implement story into your business, schedule a call with us today.