How Consumer Power Will Determine Brand Success [PSFK London]

Diana Verde Nieto, CEO of Postive Luxury, talks to PSFK about how consumers will one day vote with their money for brands that reflect their values.

We are excited to have Diana Verde Nieto, the founder and CEO of Positive Luxury, as a speaker at PSFK Conference London. Positive Luxury is an e-commerce website that inspires people to make more responsible purchases without compromising on selecting high-quality, stylish luxury goods. On September 13, Diana will discuss how informed consumers will one day vote with their money, purchasing from brands that reflect their own values.

We’ve been very interested in how consumers are influencing the decisions that brands are making. Do you see a growing number of consumers demanding ‘sustainability’ from the products that they own?

I hope so. Traditionally, consumers boycott brands that are not behaving ethically, as in the case of BP and Nestle.

I think that the language that the sustainability movement used failed to engage consumers. There are many businesses that have spent a lot of money and effort strengthening their value chain and yet have not been able to unlock the value of sustainability. Effectively engaging the consumer in a language they can understand is key to making sustainability accessible and meaningful.

That’s why we believe giving consumers access to a brand’s social and environmental efforts, at a click, in real time and in simple terms, will strengthen the emotional connection between brands and consumers, giving people a reason to buy beyond the product itself.

Brands are not perfect, and although big brands cannot move as quickly as small companies in making changes and embedding sustainability in their business processes, they’re making incredible inroads and looking at a potentially enormous impact. Companies like Unilever, Nike and Gucci have done an incredible amount of work in bringing this to the forefront.

In other words, you help communicate a brand’s efforts towards sustainability?

Yes that is correct – but in a language that consumers can engage with. We help brands tell their story. We want to encourage a ‘consumer spring’ where the power balance is shifted in favor of consumers and their demand for transparency, accountability and so on. This will really make brands sit up and listen.

Positive-Luxury-DIANAVERDENIETO

What do you see as the goal of Positive Luxury?

The platform is about positive living. We showcase best in class brands for their social and environmental efforts.

We help brands put their behind-the-scenes story in the hands of the consumer. As you can see from our brand pages, we tell their story, leaving the consumer to make up their own mind.

We believe brands will come to recognize that investing in people and our planet is actually good business in the long run. For example, if they invest in schools, study innovation, or invest in R&D, we take that information and use it to enhance our story about the brand, and promote that on social media and so on.

What is your process for selecting brands to carry? Is there some sort of vetting involved?

We have also developed a self-assessment questionnaire that focuses on five main areas: environment, governance, community, internal operations, and philanthropy.

We do not place value judgment on brands. We communicate what a brand is doing in a consumer-friendly language. The company self reports and our algorithm then evaluates each one of the data points that the company has reported, looking at areas like social media, NGO sites, company CSR reports (if they have them) and so on, in order to match each one of those data points against what the company has reported. If you are within a 10 on our scale, basically you pass, and get awarded The Mark of Positive Living

The main difference between us and any other trust mark and or certification is that we evaluate the data in real time when, certifications for example, only validate this once a year.

What inspired you to start this company?

I grew up in Argentina and lived in Buenos Aires until I was 22. Being born in a dictatorship, I have always been interested in social sustainability. When I got older, I did lots of jobs in marketing, and came to discover the fact that you can reconcile responsible company behavior with economic success.

I started my first business in 2002. It’s a sustainability communication consultancy called Clownfish. I took the company from my living room to an international brand with offices in New York and Shanghai, Milan, Madrid and London. I sold the business to Aegis Media, back in 2008, and then I stepped down as CEO in 2010.

After stepping down as the CEO of Clownfish I never thought I would ever be as passionate about another business in the way I felt about my first business.

Thankfully I was wrong. Positive Luxury was launched in October 2011, and since then it has been incredibly rewarding to grow the brand and have an operational hands on role again. I believe that the company is really well placed to engage consumers on sustainability in an uncomplicated way. It’s my new baby!

Thanks Diana!

@DianaVerdeNieto // Positive Luxury

Come see Diana talk more about purchasing according to brand values at PSFK CONFERENCE LONDON on 13th September 2012.


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