The five facets of “Positive Consumption”

I’m just coming back from BIOFACH the yearly German trade fair showing new products and trends of the booming bio/eco market This is all about food, cosmetics, lifestyle products and the rest. All green, organic, healthy things. The fair alleys were crowded. Much more than usual. I could feel the pulse of the market. I love that !

It’s interesting to watch European consumers becoming green crazy. The trend is not new. It started here in Europe 20 years ago. I will always remember one of my students proposing a thesis subject about “green marketing” at that time. Nobody, included me, knew what it was at that time. Now , although the bio sector only represents 2-3% of household food expenses, the EU market for organic products is growing constantly at annual rates of 7-8 %. This is exceptional given an average annual growth rate in grocery retail markets of around 2% to 3% over the last 10 years (Source: Case “PreserveÂź Products Strategy for Europe”, Baeyens, Brussels 2015).

Consumers are definitely spending more on organic food: between 2005 and 2014, per capita organic produce consumption increased by 110% while In the same period, household consumption of food in general remained almost constant. (Source: Organic In Europe: Expanding Beyond A Niche, Matthias Stolze,1 Raffaele Zanoli2 and Stephen Meredith3, in ORGANIC IN EUROPE: prospects and developments 2016, IFOAM EU Group,

But the most interesting aspect of “green consumerism” is its integration into a larger trend of “positive consumption” as Sharon Greene, the managing director of RISC International, a global consumer behavior consultancy already put it in a 2009 interview:

“We identified an increasing convergence of five facets of the Positive Consumption trend, which all come together within the same individual consumer:

  1. Social Engagement – or consumer empowerment – is the main dimension driving Positive Consumption across the world, it reflects a growing desire to engage and give back to society but also to take back control over one’s life, it’s all about reciprocity.
  2. Environment – characterized by an active concern for environmental issues and a desire to do what one can to protect the environment‹
  3. Health – reflecting concerns for the effects that products can have on one’s health and the health of one’s family. This dimension is increasingly linked to environment.‹
  4. Feel Good – an aspiration towards enhancing personal and individual well-being a dimension which emphasizes the fact that the Positive Consumption trend is not about denying oneself pleasure‹
  5. Ethics and ethical behavior – a preference for ethical business and an increasing sensitivity to the collective responsibility we have to ensure that companies do business in an ethical way.

Marketing often addresses these dimensions separately. But consumers will increasingly look for products and services which satisfy all five aspirations.”

This calls for an integrated approach to formulating value propositions. Consumers are complex and more demanding than ever. That’s why I love socially responsible marketing. It obliges us to be more sophisticated, more intelligent marketers. It forces us to practice a more respectful marketing and it finally allows us to reconcile our personal values with consumers current needs and wants.

Be inspired !images-2.jpg


We’re in business for people, not for money !

I watched a TV documentary yesterday about the founders of a social company recycling old furniture and objects they collect at people homes
The company is growing, now employing 40 people among which a number of handicapped people. « We’re not a non profit business, but we bring value to the community and the community is giving back to us » said the owner and he went on : « a few years ago, people were saying I was outdated, now they’re saying I’m fashionable ».

Is caring about people needs some kind of fashion ? No ! Actually that’s at the origin of craftmanship and trade. When money became the moto and when the profit of some became the only reason for doing business, industry started creating pseudo-needs. It took gigantic proportions with the development of the market economy. It reached a point where marketing is perceived by most people as a tool invented to manipulate masses instead of a way to bring value and satisfaction to customers.


Now is the time to come back to basics an reinvent business and marketing. The excesses of mass marketing not only did not generate happiness (at most it created comfort) but it devastated our planet’s resources. Look at the terrible « visual pollution » created by generalization of shopping centers on the outskirts of cities. The « all for money » principle led to a perverted society that lost its human values and promoted all forms of violence as a way for our youth to find some sense of life

Happily mankind has its good sides ! Civilization is when human beings’s good sides dominate the bad ones. And, as a witness of young future leaders today, I can see new ideals and new values emerging making me very excited about the future. I’m watching young entrepreneurs with a healthier business philosophy who see profit as the outcome of value creation instead of the result of some kind of customer manipulation. They understand that the most value you create, the more sharing you can do. And they care for sustainable social value as much as their own pocket.

Years ago, we were teaching that the purpose of business strategy is to generate a long term sustainable flow of profit. Today, we preach for the triple bottom line paradigm It leads to more competitiveness while bringing a brick to the wall of humanity. Because who are entrepreneurs but the builders of the future ? And who are we, professors, but messengers of hope ?

Be inspired !Unknown.png

Did you find the green ocean ?

Blue ocean strategy is making the buzz these days. I can hear students and professionals talk about it everyday. And…as all famous models, the more people talk about it, the more the model gets distorded and looks like some kind of old patchwork.

Blue Ocean Strategy was developed by Kim and Mauborgne and first published in 2005. More than 10 years already. “They observed that companies tend to engage in head-to-head competition… Yet…it brings no real profit in today’s industries… Success comes, not from battling competitors, but from creating blue oceans of untapped new market spaces…”.

This book is one of the most inspiring book i’ve read. Clear, persuasive, disruptive. But now it’s already a classic. Marketing has moved to new paradigms. One of it is “green marketing”. Green marketing is not new but it was limited to some greenwashing for years. Nothing really fundamental. Nothing really strategic. In the meanwhile, some pioneers were managing their little green business in some hidden garage somewhere. Now, the little guys grew up and are the current winners. The little green sea became an ocean !

Some examples ?

  • Whole Foods Market, founded in Austin, Texas, in 1980 by two owners of small natural stores, now more than 400 supermarkets in America and UK. A wonderful concept, marvelously merchandised.
  • Preserve Products, a plastic manaufacturer founded in 1997 by Eric Hudson in Waltham, Massachusetts. Hudson worked with scientists and engineers to create Preserve’s first high-quality product from recycled plastics—a toothbrush. Since then, it has grown into a dynamic, green lifestyle company offering a range of everyday products for almost every room in the home. 13413701_1740078236276574_328058319174818470_n.png
  • Ecover, founded in a small cottage in a rural town in Belgium by a team of highly motivated eco-pioneers. Long before ‘sustainability’ and ‘eco-friendly’ became household names, they showed evidence that phosphates, a common ingredient used in laundry and dishwasher products, were polluting water systems. They created a phosphate free washing powder, a real success that soon found its way across the globe.

So what ? What does that teach us ? Winners are those who believe in their deep values. They’re not dreamers, they’re militants. They want to share, not sell. Money is not the goal, it’s the consequence. The key to success in contemporary marketing is this: values bring value !

Be inspired !


Earth month: why being green will help you innovate

April is Earth Month and you can act in your everyday life to make our planet better. See for example 10 Tips to Celebrate Earth Month:

But the most important for us, market creators, is to be inspired by the planet protection  pioneers to bring innovation at the heart of our management processes.

Look at the solar impulse project of Bertrand Piccard – . It shows that the impossible is possible. Its inspiring but it may seem far away from our day to day potential.

So, look at the new  Paris ePrix taking place this weekend in the heart of the French capital: . It’s a revolution in racing sports but also a fantastic reputation factor for the city. Suddenly, the city of Paris, one of the world most acclaimed leaders in tourism, add a green component to her image.

Most importantly, going for green will give you a strategic competitive advantage. This is especially true in emerging markets where green standards are not yet developed. In an excellent article of Harvard Business Review Gregory Unruh and Richard Ettenson gives three smart ways to developing sustainable products

Innovation led by societal concern is the key trend now. Don’t wait a minute if you want to take the green path ! Very soon it will not be a competitive differentiation  anymore !

Be inspired !


Do you think about your triple bottom line ?

Money ! Money ! Money ! The obsession of all managers, company owners, speculators ! Profit & loss. The bottom line ! The obsession of all controllers and finance managers !

Profit is the driving force of the market economy. Some consider it as the final purpose of business and life. Some see it as a measurement tool of business and economy effectiveness. But whatever your opinion about it, times are changing. The P&L bottom line is no more the only one ! 

Look at the success stories of these last 20 years: Google, Facebook, AirBnB,
 these businesses grew dramatically because their purpose was to bring new social models. The money making model followed. Actually, they made some years to make money. They looked at the second bottom line: the Societal bottom line. They introduced new paradigms  changing people behaviors everywhere. A number of green companies are putting society first while making profit. B Corps for example, are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency (

Once these companies succeed , they also put employees first. They understood that, to keep employees loyal in a  war for talent, they need to make their life at work happy and secure. Sometimes called “new paternalism”, this is also reinforcing the market and economic performance of corporations. They care for the Social bottom line. Read Richard Branson about it:

Think about the triple bottom line like this:

  • money is the consequence of business performance
  • performance comes from innovation and employee engagement
  • innovation comes out a strong motivation to change the society
  • employee engagement leads to customer satisfaction, hence business performance

So, don’t loose a minute: Care for your triple bottom line NOW Capture d’écran 2016-04-07 à 19.44.54.png