Less, but Better

Credit: Patrick Fore

Credit: Patrick Fore

In this age of modern abundance, responsible brands need to help people moderate their consumption while maximising enjoyment.

At Echo, we have the privilege of working with heritage brands, but with it comes legacy challenges. Often, their hero products were invented decades, if not a century ago – for a different consumer, for a different time. In the early 1900s (pre mass-production) things were harder to come by and there were natural moderators of consumption in place. People spent all week looking forward to a Sunday roast, strawberries were only available in summer, and there were just 2 fashion seasons each year. Today, it’s open season. Economies of scale have radically reduced the cost of goods, modern logistics have joined up global supply chains, stores are open 24 hours a day, products are hand-delivered overnight, our disposable income has peaked and communications have instilled consumer culture (new, better, more!) to the point where people feel completely out of balance with their bodies and the planet 

Driven by the wellness trend and sustainability imperative, a new set of consumer values are now emerging. Moderation and mindfulness are challenging the foundations of consumable categories that have come to be defined by ease of access and abundance. We are currently working on this very challenge with a range of brands best known for indulgence (including chocolate and alcohol) to create permissibility anew.

In partnership with Nestlé, we are helping Smarties to achieve their permissibility and sustainability objectives in International Travel Retail. Together, we have created a strategy and innovation pipeline for Smarties built around developmental play and environmental responsibility. Through the design of colourful, imagination-sparking toys, Smarties promotes cognitive, physical and social skills. This opportunity for open play and family bonding elevates the consumption moment and kids are encouraged to slow down and savour the chocolate – enjoying it in a new, richer context. In parallel, we are designing a plastic-free future for the brand by migrating to new packaging.

Working to a similar brief, we are helping William Grant & Sons to design their future legacy. As a distiller, in a time of growing sobriety, they need a progressive plan. Whilst they are currently in the business of alcohol, they are trading much more of significance. People connect with their brands for the flavour experience, ritual, tradition and stories of craft. They also enjoy them for rich and varied emotional reasons: to socialise, to relax, to celebrate etc, and these basic human needs remain constant. Together with William Grant & Sons we are creating an innovation pipeline built around sociability, mood management, sustainability and ethical craft that thinks outside the bottle. 

It is a fertile time for brands. Through being the fastest (and deftest!) to embrace new consumer priorities and create permissible, but equally exciting offers, there is great opportunity to increase brand value and generate new revenue streams. Just consider the remarkable new technologies at our disposal. For products first imagined in the early 1900’s, there is scope to completely unpack and rebuild offers in a way that dials up the elements that are most valued while replacing those aspects which no longer serve us. Already we are seeing the innovation of reduced sugar chocolate and synthetic alcohol. The possibilities presented by biotechnology, genetic personalisation, materials science, AI, digital gamification, FairChain etc to create offers that are better for our bodies, minds, communities and planet are limitless!