8 March 2019 Courier Weekly

The conscious consumer myth

PLUS: Sports clubs - Hotels - Banned ads - Lobster logistics

People don’t actually shop sustainably

There’s a big difference between what consumers say they want and what they actually spend their money on. When looking at spending data, it becomes clear that most purchasing decisions are based on price and convenience - not ethics, despite what the current volume of chatter around sustainability would have you believe. This Fast Company articleprovides an interesting take on why this is the case.

New Zealand app CoGo, which links consumers with ethical brands, recently launched in the UK. Founder Ben Gleisner reckons this disconnect could be narrowed by gamifying mundane choices like where to buy a coffee on the way to work. The CoGo platform can push notifications that congratulate people for shopping with businesses that pay a living wage, or add up how much a user has spent in a year with a single brand.

Gleisner also shared some interesting market research stats with us:

  • French consumers are some of the least ethical shoppers: only 4% are willing to pay a premium for ethical products, while the per capita spend on fair trade products is just $6.36.
  • Consumers in Asia Pacific are much more likely to shop ethically, with 59% having actually made a purchase for ethical reasons in the past six months and 64% willing to spend more on these types of products.

The business of running clubs

Brands like cycling kit company Rapha and exercise bike maker Peloton have had great success in building communities around sport. Now, the same model is being applied to what is often a very solitary form of exercise: running. 

In London, East Nine has just launched an app for runners with a Strava-esque league table. It hosts regular runs from its base in Homerton. Meanwhile, at the end of 2018, Boston-based running apparel company Tracksmith launched a members club, Hare AC, which charges a fee in exchange for perks such as limited edition running kit and access to the company’s clubhouse in Boston.

Building a mini hotel empire

Airbnb is often presented as the dominating force in the hospitality industry, but there are a number of modern hotel brand successes, too.

Inés Miró-Sans founded Casa Bonay in 2016 after working for Ace Hotel Group in New York for three years. It’s since gained a global reputation for being the city’s most sought-after (and Instagrammable) overnight stay. We caught up with Miró-Sans this week, when she revealed how she’s planning to grow the brand.

‘We’re getting ready to grow a little bit,’ she told us. ‘The idea isn’t to make a huge group, but to build a small collection of very special places around Europe. We’re looking right now in Spain, Portugal and Italy — mainly in the city, but also the countryside.’

The blessing of banned ads

Spending money on campaigns only to have them banned by regulators is no doubt a frustrating experience for a small business. Grocery delivery company Farmdrop was in the news this week after Transport for London rejected its advertisements for featuring too much unhealthy food.

Fortunately, there is a silver lining: press coverage. Plenty of publications have picked up on the irony of a brand which champions fresh produce receiving this kind of feedback, and Farmdrop has even published its own blog post on the situation.

This isn’t the first time a regulator has given a brand more publicity by blocking advertising. We previously spoke to sexual wellness company Unbound about how it overcomes ad bans, while period pants company Thinx has made headlines multiple times over ad censorship.

The logistics of creating a lobster restaurant

The founder of Luke’s Lobster, a now-global US restaurant group, is in the New York Times this week talking through the complex process of getting lobsters on people’s plates – via Nova Scotia, Whole Foods, and a number of truckers.

Lobster restaurants are one of the more complex food operations, in part because the crustacean needs to be kept alive for as long as possible. Burger and Lobster, which has 16 sites across the world, has gone to the extraordinary lengths of building a lobster tank at Heathrow Airport.

Lobster prices can also fluctuate wildly, causing more problems for restaurants selling them. In 2017, Burger and Lobster made significant losses as a result of the weak pound and increased crustacean prices. This period of lobsterity appears to be over, with a return to profit reported last year.

Ten things on our radar

  1. Why life insurance companies are creeping on your Instagram.
  2. Hospitality businesses should take notes from this tense tale of a celebrity chef vs a Michelin star restaurant.
  3. This $5,000 per week academy is designed for older tech workers (or ‘elders’). Perks include ‘Modern Elder flip-flops’, beach meditation and a shaman.
  4. The most millennial item of all time.
  5. From The AllBright to The Wing, female-only clubs are on the rise. A new entry on the market: Chief.
  6. An extremely cheeky proposal to curb plastic waste involves posting your plastic to Deliveroo.
  7. More evidence that e-sports are big, big business: Nike will create kit for China’s biggest league.
  8. ‘Help me not get fired’: Dark humour or toxic culture at Revolut?
  9. WeWork is investing in its founder’s hobbies, like surfing.
  10. Why are fashion and luxury brands so racially insensitive? [£]