17 January 2019
In the past 12 months, increased awareness of global environmental crises has nudged sustainability from a niche concern to a mainstream opportunity.
In response, we have seen a big shift in the way brands are responding to sustainability. Consumers are gaining a heightened awareness of the negative impact of throwaway consumption and have become experts in identifying the difference between essential and non-essential purchases. In 2018, Unilever announced that its most sustainable brands grew 46% faster than the rest of the business and delivered 70% of its turnover growth.
Sustainability is now a mass-market concern and something all brands must respond to in order to stay ahead of the curve.
Developing a Sustainable Future
Silentnight Group are a perfect example of how sustainability makes commercial sense.
Producing over 15,000 mattresses a week, Silentnight are the UK market leaders for domestic-use mattresses and in 2018 became winners of ‘The Furniture Makers Sustainability Award’ for the second year running.
Through their eco-friendly product development, progressive work practices and their partnership with the Marine Conservation Society, Silentnight are determined to make the world a greener place, maintaining their position as a trusted mainstream brand at the same time.
Understanding Future Consumer Mindsets
Working collaboratively with Trend Bible and Circular Economy expert David Fitsimmons from Oakdene Hollis, Silentnight identified mainstream sustainability as a future business opportunity and have since revolutionised the way their products are designed and manufactured.
From as far back as 2015, Trend Bible worked with Silentnight to forecast future consumer mindsets and attitudes, crafting messages and product ideas that would resonate with this future customer. Trend Bible are often invited by brands to help them explore the opportunities within these really big societal and environmental challenges.
“We frame up future trends for our clients in a way that enables them to act at a time when the trend will resonate most with their audience – the timing has to be perfect; it can’t be too early, and it can’t be too late.” Naomi Pollard, Senior Trend Strategist, Trend Bible.
As a mass market manufacturer simply switching to ‘naturals’ like cotton or wool was not a commercial option for Silentnight.
Angela Moran, Product Strategy Director at Silentnight, explains; ‘Instead, we took inspiration from the likes of Nike, Adidas and Patagonia and take single use plastics and turn them into new products. Whilst there is much media hype demonising plastic following Blue Planet, it’s not so much plastic per se, but the littering of plastic, particularly single use, that’s the problem.’
Taking inspiration from the principles of the circular economy, Silentnight’s innovative Eco Comfort mattress contains high performance fibres made from recycled plastic bottles. Not only does each mattress prevent 150 plastic bottles from entering the waste stream, but the high-tech design process offers greater breathability and is available at an affordable price. Eco Comfort has been awarded a ‘Which? Best Buy’ 5 years running and is the brand’s best-selling mattress online, proving that sustainable design doesn’t always come at a premium or mean sacrificing sales as a brand.
Thus far, Silentnight have prevented a staggering 105 million plastic bottles from entering landfill or our oceans.
“Circular economy thinking makes perfect sense for any business because ultimately it’s about being a resource-efficient business. In nature, there is no waste as everything is recycled. We’re taking another industry’s waste product and converting it into new comfort fibres, therefore adding value by making new consumer goods.” Angela Moran, Silentnight.
What’s next for Sustainability?
As innovative consumer brands begin to find clever ways to incorporate sustainable practices into their products, without sacrificing performance, consumers will begin to expect this as standard and hold brands to account. In a world full of complexity, the simplest solutions will resonate.
We send the bespoke trend reports out to different departments in our organisation from product development to digital and customer teams. The report acts as internal inspiration that everyone can read and get something from. The feedback we get is overwhelmingly positive.
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