Focus on people’s love, not hate- Oh! Marketing Guys

Remember (?) advertising for ‘Dove’ – as in “Dove is not a soap – it is one quarter moisturising crème.” This refers to calling attention to the positioning of the product category but refuting it for the brand in the same category. This is not positioning Dove as not being a soap but highlighting a product attribute which other brands in the category may not have – it’s competitive parity method of positioning a brand against a category – the point of parity being that ‘Dove is in fact a soap’ yet the point of difference being – it is different from all other soaps in terms of its product attribute resulting into a differential (superior) consumer benefit.

Marketing for products promising sustainability has usually seen their positioning as what they “weren’t.” (it is analogous to saying ‘Dove is in fact not a soap’ which was never the intent or the meaning in its communication actually). Products promising sustainability are a different product category in terms of their attributes (points of difference) but using parity of benefits with a less sustainable category, which they wish to take on. The proposition here is same consumer benefits, entirely different attributes and an Extra value proposition of sustainability and ethicality.

Notice these:

  1. Mock Meat isn’t meat. (Good for vegetarians and vegans). Mock meat, also known as meat analogue, faux meat or vegan meat, is a cruelty-free substitute for animal-derived meat. It looks like meat, cooks like meat and tastes like meat but it’s healthier, better for the environment and doesn’t involve killing any animals. Today, mock meat brands are emerging in India, and are armed with numerous kinds of textured meat. You could literally replace meat in any recipe with mock meat and it will be the same. Some brands are on the market –
  • Veggie Champ
  • Good Dot
  • Vegeta Gold
  • Vezlay
  • Vegitein


  1. Solar isn’t fossil fuel. (Good for environment) The climate change openly call for the world to make a shift to an alternate fuel; a fuel that brings with itself both the dependability and usability of fossil fuels. Some players in India’s solar industry are:
  • Tata Power Solar Systems Ltd.
  • Kotak Urja Pvt. Ltd.
  • Moser Baer Solar Ltd.
  • Indosolar Ltd.
  • Photon Energy Systems Ltd.
  1. Soy milk isn’t a dairy product. (Good for vegans and people with dairy allergies) Some brands on the market:
  • Sofit
  • Soy Milky
  • So Good
  • Soyfresh
  • Soyvita

Positioning against the negative helped companies attract consumers who were revolting against the polluting impacts of standard manufacturing practices and products. But doing so ignored what potential customers still wanted, whether a product was sustainable or not: delicious in taste, high on performance, reliable in terms of quality and comfort, and overall satisfaction.

Many eco-conscious consumers have given up meat grudgingly. But that doesn’t mean they don’t miss the savoury taste of a good burger.  It is not a good idea to build a brand by telling people not to eat what they love; instead, encourage people to eat more of their favourite food — just a healthier, more humane, more sustainable version.

Consider the following suggestions and examples for focussing on people’s love rather than their hate –

  1. Consumers shopping for fuel-efficient cars were convinced they had to sacrifice safety and speed. People don’t just buy a car, they invest in a brand. Build a brand on what most of the drivers would value above fuel efficiency – delivering the high level of quality and performance – but bringing along fuel efficiency too.
  2. Women don’t want to give up make-up. But beauty products contain many toxic chemicals. What’s the choice? Risk cancer or go make-up free? The opportunity lies in developing innovative products that provide the same level of beauty as their conventional counterparts conforming to new standard of safety which you set to lead the industry.
  3. Most domestic gadgets, appliances and lighting brands can stretch the technology and stress their technological prowess but declare, “Saving energy is a beautiful thing.” Not that it saves money or is good for the planet, both of which are true.
  4. Government is enacting plastic bag fees and other laws to reduce use of plastic bags. Retailers and departmental stores are on a mission in stopping the use of throwaway plastic bags by encouraging shoppers to BYOB (bring your own bag). There lies the opportunity of empowering people to take an active role; giving them a shopping bag which they would love to flaunt: an inexpensive, durable, fashionable and affordable bag they can use over and over and over again. Business could be expanded to co-branding operation so that other businesses can take advantage of the good will that the brand creates in the marketplace and appear to do right by association.
  5. For decades, selling more sustainable products was hindered by limited access to customers because of established channels of distribution — many of which were hard, if not impossible, for purpose-driven brands to infiltrate. Today, organic dairies and cow-milk dairies are surviving by resurrecting the home delivery “milkman.”
  6. Women silently face problems in public washrooms because of unhygienic toilet seats, making them prone to infections. Archit Agarwal realised the problems while compiling a report on the condition of public washrooms. He joined hands with a colleague to plunge into entrepreneurship. They built a novel sanitation device, which allows women to stand and urinate eliminating physical contact of body with dirty toilet seats and with it, the risk of infections. In this social media era of revealing tell-all and first-person narratives, explaining a new product with a compelling origin story sells.

Marketing driven with the purpose of sustainability need not compromise with the wants of the consumers. In fact, sustainability is not anti-consumer satisfaction; it provides additional gratification for the customer and more opportunities for differentiation.


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Published by

Mukul Gupta

*Educator, researcher, author and a friendly contrarian* Professor@MDIGurgaon

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