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Ethical Marketing – Can we save the ‘Rangtang’ and still make money?

Ethical Marketing – Can we save the ‘Rangtang’ and still make money?

Modern business is transforming the way we think about success, and in extreme cases, survival, particularly in our current economic climate with sustainable business practices and green impact being particularly highlighted. One wonders, which large companies will still exist in 2030… who knows?

The death of the High Street means many familiar brands and household names from Woolworths to Toys-R-Us are disappearing and becoming a distant historic memory. Gone are the days of wandering into a store and searching for your favourite toy or gifts for your loved ones. Spending November and December with the Argos catalogue and a ‘big fat felt tip pen’ circling what ultimately could be your Christmas list to Santa is now a thing of the past with e-shopping, next day delivery and competitive pricing through online giants such as Amazon and eBay.

Fashion brands have changed their business model completely investing heavily online. Today it is “order as much as you can for next day delivery” from the likes of or Asos and if it doesn’t fit, simply ship it back. Where is the glamour in that? Who cares about glamour you say… well yes, of course, we are a nation of convenient shoppers but we are also a nation of ‘keyboard warriors’. And through social media, we have opened the flood-gates of opinion on corporate business ethics and sustainable practices so much so that companies are seeing this as an essential part of their business models. Iceland is an example of just that.

Iceland and their cute little baby ‘rangtang’, homeless and unloved because of deforestation of palm oil, which is a hidden ingredient in a multitude of products. From your make-up, body lotion, chocolate bar and microwave dinner, palm oil is everywhere. Consumers are now savvier than ever and it is forcing businesses to think and act on the issue. Cadbury regularly defends itself from anti-palm oil online activists, justifying it as an ethically sourced product and that the complete palm-oil removal would be a catastrophe for developing economies. Iceland has taken an alternative approach and sided with the public. They have agreed that it is a sad state of affairs and through their banned TV advert created in collaboration with Green Peace (which by the way went viral online and won Ad of the Year 2018), they make a promise; a promise to help protect poor ‘rangtang.’ They committed to removing palm-oil from all products with their name on it. What an amazing effort, so considerate and supportive to a worldly concern from a leading company within the supermarket industry. This news made waves, people tweeted and liked their efforts, we even went so far as to swap our food choices in store to Iceland’s own brand to show our solidarity and support for ‘rangtang.’ One could even argue at this stage Iceland needs recognition or a medal, but most cynical business analysts will tell you that no money-making giant will ever make a move so bold for altruistic reasons alone. So why do it at all?

They do it to gain market share, position themselves as the UK’s No 1 ethical supermarket and resonate with the millennials and Generation Z’s causes. Whether producing an advert almost certain to get banned from TV and therefore go ‘viral” online was a calculated publicity ploy, we will never know. One thing is for sure, it worked for Iceland’s market share and brand enhancement and at the same time made a very important, environmental campaign extremely popular for all consumers, very keen to save the ‘rangtang”. So is this a masterclass in marketing and business positioning or a triumph of using social media and the web for a very worthwhile cause? You can be the judge of that.

About the Author

Holly Dougan

Holly Dougan

Holly Dougan is the Foundation Business Programme Leader and Business Lecturer at Wrexham Glyndŵr University. She currently teaches on the BA (Hons) Business and BA (Hons) Business (with foundation year) programmes.