Overcoming Consumerism: 4 Challenges in Creating Sustainable Products

Product sustainability has been a rising discussion and concern for years within the world of business due to the catastrophic changes and negative tolls our environment is continuously facing. The ability to provide a sustainable product, solution, and process from design to disposal is a huge positive leap for all organisations.

Eco-friendly merchandise can contribute to saving our environment; hence, it can revive one's brand, boost market shares and sales, and redevelop a process or product. However, many companies face challenges in producing or transitioning to sustainable products or materials. Why? Because of the hurdles in maintaining sustainable development throughout its life cycle.

Let's discuss those challenges to pursuing sustainability.

1. The Product Doesn’t Meet Consumer Needs and Expectations

The buying behaviour of consumers has evolved through the years. They have become highly intellectual, comparative, practical, and engaged with brands and products. Consumers are highly critical regarding quality, comfort, price, and even style with green and non-green products. That results in a challenge to meet their expectations and preferences, considering they are already patronising a non-sustainable brand. So how do you flip the switch?

The key is highlighting the impact of your products in promoting sustainability. Does it end with your product development, or will you select a sustainable cause aligned with your brand? Once you have identified this, create a plan to communicate your purpose with your consumers. People want to be informed and knowledgeable of the impact their single purchase can have on the world. Make an effort to share your brand voice, educate your market and add value to your products or services.

2. Lack of Sustainable Materials

There will be lots of challenges to face during the development and design stage of your eco-shirts, bags, hoodies, towels packaging, or whatever green products you have planned. However, the primary dilemma of your designers will be the inadequate source and type of materials they can use to create products that “fully serve” sustainable branding. For example, T-Shirts are made not just of ordinary cotton, but of organic ring-spun cotton. Cotton is a natural material, but it needs a lot of water to grow. Meanwhile, organic ring-spun cotton is softer, durable and an overall better quality. This could be the reason why you chose these particular products of this brand.

For a product or solution to classify the bracket of sustainability, one must be environmentally safe, renewable, reasonable, and durable. This is a combination that is hard to meet at a low price.

Developing and producing eco-friendly designed products already involves high costs for each stage. Moreover, comparing the life cycle of green vs non-green products over their price makes it difficult to market green products. This is because synthetic material lasts longer and can be customised easier. Remember that customers’ value for a product often equates to its lifespan. With this, they tend to switch back to longevity over sustainability. On a positive note, this could be overcome with thorough planning of processes and sourcing for sustainable suppliers you could partner with for your green cause.

3. High Cost of Green Materials

You'll need to spend more to produce green products. As discussed previously, the eco-material is more expensive due the manufacturing costs, and of course, this will reflect the end price of the final product as it hits the shelves.

You can make up for the price differences of your eco-products by differentiating your long-term purpose and goal. Moreover, you can customise your processes without degrading your raw material quality. Try energy-efficient production lines, reduce carbon footprints, go zero waste and promote recyclability by reproducing damaged products and scraps. With this, you can make the most of your green materials and serve your purpose right.

4. Lack of Communication with Customers

Another common challenge of selling eco-friendly products is the lack of marketing and communications towards your target market. Honestly, you can’t just produce sustainable merch and expect someone to immediately purchase it. Customers tend to choose cheap and fast-produced products over the sustainable ones. Therefore, you need to let them know the advantages of your sustainable products compared to other brands.

Explain to your consumers the delicate yet safe process of your end products. Feed them with information on your materials. Then, add value to them by teaching them how to prolong their eco products and informing the contribution it can create to the community. 

Overcome the Challenges of Consumerism

Maximise your sustainability programs, products and solutions and do not let anything block your way to reaching your consumer's heart and mind.
Creating sustainability plans shows the good intentions of your company to return the favour to our environment, which has been neglected for a long time. We hope more and more companies engage and initiate activities that support the green product movement.

Want to make your business sustainable? Check out these 10 tips to make your business more sustainable