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How Alara Wholefoods has built the company with green marketing

How Alara Wholefoods has built the company with green marketing

Background

With organic product sales slumping by 12.9% last year you might be forgiven for thinking that 'environmental issues' are not top of consumers agendas at this time of economic uncertainty, but one company that bucked the trend last year, with an increase in their brand turnover of 20%, thinks it’s just a matter of getting the message right.

Challenge and Strategy

When Alara Wholefoods, the UK's largest organic muesli producer, accounting for 60% of the market, brought New Chapter Marketing and PR on board they were surprised that they wanted to take the focus away from their products and put it onto the company's Director, Alex Smith, instead.

Whilst Alara's products themselves were green and organic, packaged in recyclable packaging and used local and fair-trade ingredients wherever possible, New Chapter identified that the average consumer was starting to become confused about exactly what the organic message means.

They did however recognise that green issues were still important to the consumer, but instead of focussing on the products they wanted to turn the attention to the green achievements of the company as a whole and what Alex was doing to put a more personal spin on the message.

Implementation

Alex has a real passion for the environment and had already been nominated for a position as a 'London Leader of Sustainability', given the responsibility of encouraging London businesses to go green, during the year he also, with the help of the local community, removed over 50 tonnes of rubbish from wasteland behind Alara's factory in Kings Cross to create a large permaculture garden, planted London's largest vineyard and largest inner city organic orchard, created several community gardens, became the first UK food company to go zero waste (nothing from the site is thrown away), and put a small wind turbine on the warehouse roof.

It was this environmental and community work that New Chapter looked to focus on and they dubbed Alex as 'London's Captain Planet'.

The media took an immediate shine to what Alex was trying to achieve, especially after being invited to apple wassailing parties which involved lots of cider, as it showed them a working case study of how going green in central London 'could' be done; it allowed them to go beyond just talking about a tasty organic muesli and gave a personality to the brand.

The positive media coverage flowed with full page pieces in national newspapers, magazine articles, regular columns in lifestyle titles and radio interviews.

Results


As a result sales saw a dramatic increase and, despite the recession, brand sales in 2009 were up by 20% on the previous year. On top of this Alara have won and been short listed for numerous awards for their green work and marketing including Green Business of the Year at the Fast Growth Business Awards, Small Company of the Year in the Food Manufacturer and Excellence Awards and a finalist spot in the prestigious Grocer Gold Awards.

The BP oil spill has shown that green issues are still high on the agenda for the public, but in today's competitive marketplace Alara's take home message is that you have to show the public that you walk the walk as well as talk the talk. There is no point in just having organic written on your packaging.

Too many organisations have seen the merit in doing that and it no longer sets you apart from the rest of the pack, you need to show people that you do genuinely care for the world around you and as a company you are doing your bit to save the planet.



AJR
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