Posts Tagged ‘H&M’

Whether it’s when buying clothes, food or cosmetics, shoppers are learning a cool new buzzword, says Jasmine Gardner…

Surely, you are conscious if you are reading this. However, here we are talking about buying “conscious”, eating “conscious”, dressing “conscious”. In the worlds of fashion, food and cosmetics, conscious means far more than just aware and responsive. More specifically, it means that you are ethically and environmentally aware. It is the new way for brands to show they have a social and environmental conscience.

For example, H&M launched its 2012 Conscious Clothing collection – an eco-friendly fashion line made using organic cotton and recycled polyester, with styles that have already been worn by celebrities including actresses Michelle Williams, Kristin Davis and Amanda Seyfried. The famous brand has decided that “Conscious” will be the name it gives to all of its work on creating a future of sustainable fashion.

“Sustainability is very much about being provident with the Earth’s resources and recognising how people and the environment are affected by our operations. Hence the name ‘Conscious’ is a natural choice,” says an H&M spokesperson. Of course, just recognising is not enough to be truly “conscious” in that you need to know about the impact of your actions and accordingly buy the good stuff.

“We offer our customers a permanent range of various ‘conscious products’ with added sustainability value,” says H&M. “Clearly labelled, we make better choice accessible and affordable to all our customers.”

H&M is not the only one at it. The icecream maker, Ben & Jerry’s prides itself on its environmentally and financially sustainable values. Moreover, a few months ago it launched a competition to find new organisations in the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands that are creating new models for sustainable business. At the same time, in the US it is taking part in a project called the Campus Consciousness Tour – a circuit around American universities encouraging students to take action for the environment.

In the cosmetics industry, Kiehl’s, which produces luxury skincare products in recycled and recyclable packaging views itself as a conscious company at the core. “The Mission of Kiehl’s is a tribute to our belief in giving back, in supporting both the local communities in which we serve and the global community in which we live and thrive,” says its UK general manager, Victoria Campbell. As a result, it supports charitable organisations in Aids research, environmental conservation and supports children and communities.

“The words ‘ethical’ and ‘eco’ have gone out of fashion”

But if what all these companies mean is that they are ethical, environmentally friendly or sustainable, why do they choose “conscious” instead of just saying so?

“There are a couple of factors at play,” says Camilla Grey at branding consultancy Moving Brands. “First, we’ve moved into a new phase where being ethical and eco is integrated into our lives – it is embedded into our psyche. As a result, people now see themselves ‘conscious’. Secondly, [the words] ‘ethical’ and ‘eco’ have gone out of fashion. They imply a certain aesthetic – ‘knitted muesli’ as Mary Portas used to describe it. No matter how hard brands tried, they never could shake off that image. ‘Conscious’ gives them a bit more room to break free from all the white, green and hessian weave.”

Advertisements

Have you ever thought why wheat farmers don’t advertise their products on TV as the mobile phone network operators such as Vodafone and Orange or car dealers do? The fact is that because advertising is useful only in industries in which companies have at least some market power (as it is in monopoly, oligopoly and monopolistic competititon in economic terms). Market power can be defined as the ability of a producer to raise prices.

Certainly, the main aim of advertising is to get people to buy more of a seller’s product at the going price. So only a company that has some market power, and therefore can charge a price that is above marginal cost, can gain from advertising. After this logic, it is not hard to see why many companies spend so much money on it. However, the main question which comes to the mind is why advertising works even though the money spent on advertising is often regarded as a waste of resources by the society. Although many advertising creates a puzzle in the minds, much of it is straightforward by informing potential buyers clearly about what sellers are offering. So companies believe that money spent on such promotions increase their sales and they would be in a bad situation if they stopped advertising when their competitors continue to do it.

But what information is given when an actress or sportsman acclaims the virtues of a car or if David Beckham wears H&M brand of boxers? Surely, nobody believes that the actress or sportsman is an expert on car or David Beckham really buys his boxers from H&M. Why are consumers still influenced by ads that do not accord with the reality and not provide any information about the product? One answer is that consumers are not as rational as economists suppose. Their judgements, or even tastes, can be influenced by many irrelevant things such as which celebrity has been hired by the company to endorse its product.

On the other hand, another answer shows that consumer response to advertising is not entirely irrational since ads can serve as indirect signals about the product and company. For example, if you need furniture removals and turn to the Yellow Pages including a lot of small listings and several large display ads, you most probably rationally call one of the firms with a big display ad. Because the big ad probably connotes that it’s a successful company — otherwise, it wouldn’t spend so much money for the larger ad.

Let’s apply the same principle to the ads with celebrities. You don’t really believe that David Beckham prefers H&M boxers to all other more expensive brands; however the fact that the company is willing and able to pay David Beckham tells you that it is a major company and most likely to stand behind its product. According to this reasoning, an expensive advertisement is a venue for the company to put the quality of its products in the eyes of consumers.

After all, it won’t be truism to say that ads only work by manipulating weak-minded consumers especially if we consider the huge amount of spending on advertising. Seemingly, it is an economically productive activity for many companies.

H&M is one of the stores that I cannot pass away without stopping in order to see the collections. Although H&M seems to appear everywhere around especially European city centers and in almost all shopping malls, it is most likely a dream to see an H&M store just on the beach. Have you ever dreamed about choosing your swimming suit in H&M situated on the beach? For example, let’s consider that you want to change your swimming suit or to wear a dress because your friend has just called you to meet him/her in the cafe near the beach immediately. Although it seems impossible to find an H&M store in the middle of the beach, the last campaign by H&M shows that a surprise might happen at any moment.

Continuing its collaboration with WaterAid this year, H&M popped up a temporary container store for a two day sale right on the beach, situated at the Hague’s popular Scheveningen seaside resort. WaterAid is an international NGO that provides access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in the world’s poorest communities. H&M donated 25% of proceeds from the sale to the project.

The event not only marked the ninth annual collaboration between H&M and WaterAid but also featured the Swedish apparel retailer’s new ‘Beachwear in Shades of Blue’ line.

“Every purchase from the collection will help WaterAid save lives and lift people out of poverty,” said Caroline Whatley of WaterAid, when the line was introduced in May. “Since 2002, our collaboration with H&M has raised more than $2.4 million to support this vital work.”

Although each year H&M donates 10% of the proceeds stemming from sales of a particular bikini to WaterAid, this year an entire collection of beachwear is included in their contribution in addition to the dedicated event mentioned above.