Already this year we have seen a serious demand for transparency from consumers, and this will continue to be demanded from brands more and more as we get further into 2018. A report by Unilever suggests an estimated €966bn in untapped market potential exists for brands that are clearer about their sustainability credentials. One of the main reasons we believe the need for transparency is so great is down to the digital world we live in – online is almost impossible to discover the true origin of the information we are consuming.

In 2018 Blockchain will be a potential solution to this trust crisis, as it will act as a real way to verify sustainability. This will need help from designers to help people understand it and build their faith in it. To really make Blockchain understandable, organisations will need to shift their emphasis from ‘touch points’ to ‘trust points’ when carving out their sustainable strategies. Here’s an insight into some of the trends we believe will provide real “trust points” in the market this year.

Trust is the new currency

Blockchain is not the only way that trust can be implemented into your brand. The Baltic Sea Card is a shining example of a real ‘trust point’. The award winning debit and credit card from Bank of Aland is made from renewable raw materials including maize, which is non-toxic and is fully biodegradable. An accompanying digital report enables you to track the carbon footprint of your consumption. The report data is based on the bank’s Aland Index, which applies a unique code to different retailers and cross-references company information with financial data to calculate the carbon footprint of the wider industry and the average carbon footprint of each transaction. The Bank of Aland’s Card hopes to raise awareness and encourage people to adopt more sustainable consumption habits.

Utilising new materials

As Buckminster Fuller once said “Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we’ve been ignorant of their value.” A company that has taken this quote literally is AIR-INK. AIR INK makes the invisible visible by creating ink from the pollutants that cover our cities. Extracting the ink begins with a filter mounted on the exhaust pipe of a vehicle or diesel generator. The device then captures tiny invisible particles in the pollutant that would otherwise blacken our streets and our lungs. AIR-INK is a potent gesture that connects people to the urgent issue of climate change, bringing poetic inspiration to a daunting global challenge.

The worth of waiting

As life keeps speeding up, there has been new value placed on waiting. This trend has manifested itself through the slow food and slow TV concepts, and is now translating itself into mindfulness through modern apps that we use everyday to tackle our need for instant gratification. We are becoming increasingly nostalgic for a time when experiences felt slower, when we didn’t travel for Instagram, but for the way travel made us feel.

Gudak, an app by Korean design studio Screw Bar, adds time by making you wait. Inspired by Kodak film cameras, the app adds a tiny viewfinder to your phone’s camera, and doesn’t show the photos until they have ‘developed’. This makes users wait three days to see the shots. It’s analogue nostalgia for a time when photos held more value, and gratification was not instant.

New rental initiatives / Product Relationships

Our idea of ownership is changing, as more of us accept the fact we won’t be owning our own home anytime soon – London is set to become a city of renters by 2025. It isn’t all doom and gloom though, as the company Freitag has shown, renting doesn’t always have to be paid for by using money. Instead, they allow customers to rent their products (bags made from reused materials such as used truck tarpaulins, discarded bicycle inner tubes and car seat belts) in return for some social media promotion.

Last summer, Freitag launched the #gonewithfreitag borrow-a-travel-bag programme, which turns the Freitag recycling philosophy into a holiday reality. Believing that ‘we think and act in cycles’ and that ‘borrowing is far more fun than owning’, those in need of a travel bag could pop into any local Freitag store (or selected F-Dealer) and borrow an F512 Voyager travel backpack. All you had to do in return is shoot a few snaps, share them under the #gonewithfreitag hashtag, and return the bag after a maximum of three weeks.

These sustainability trends show an overwhelming shift towards creating new, transparent relationships between brands and consumers. Sustainability is changing from a nice-to-have, box-ticking exercise, to a must-have, at the top of the corporate social responsibility agenda. Brands that lag behind may find they’re left with a customer base that no longer trusts them.

To find out how you can harness these trends to drive your business growth, get in touch at hello@underscore.co.uk

References;
https://trends.fjordnet.com/in-transparency-we-trust/
https://www.unilever.com/news/press-releases/2017/report-shows-a-third-of-consumers-prefer-sustainable-brands.html
https://www.lsnglobal.com/news/article/21539/award-winning-biodegradable-credit-card-tackles-climate-change
https://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/nielsenglobal/dk/docs/global-sustainability-report-oct-2015.pdf
https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/12/15958632/gudak-camera-kodak-retro-photo-app
https://www.we-heart.com/2017/07/25/freitag-gonewithfreitag-f512-voyager/
https://www.freitag.ch/en/gonewithfreitag
http://www.graviky.com/air-inktrade.html
Air Ink – Graviky Labs seen at Design Museum Beazley Design Awards 2018
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/property/property-market/12157946/Generation-Rent-London-to-become-a-city-of-renters-by-2025.html
https://www.greenbiz.com/article/blockchains-emerging-role-sustainability