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Consumers get socially conscious

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As people around the world become more aware of their environmental impact, products and companies must evolve, writes THOMAS VAN DER LINDE, LG’s General Business Manager.

The stereotype of the spacey tree hugger is well and truly dead. Today’s eco-bunny isn’t found chained to a tree, they’re your average young consumer who chooses to engage critically with the brands they consume.

According to BBMG, more than a third of the global population are ‘aspirationals’, who believe they have a responsibility to consumer brands that are good for the environment and society. That accounts for more than 2 billion consumers around the world.

What’s interesting about these surveys is that the most socially conscious consumers are found in emerging markets. A 2014 Nielsen study found that 63% of Africans feel they should buy socially responsible brands, compared to just 42% in North America and 40% in Europe.

Among consumers in developing nations, there is a generation gap between those willing to pay more for socially conscious brands. The study found so-called Millennials were much more agreeable to sustainability efforts than those 35 and above. Meanwhile, a second Nielsen survey entitled The Global Socially Conscious Consumer identified environmental sustainability as the leading concern among under 20s.

These attitudes are only set to become more prevalent as younger generations become an even greater percentage of consumers. Pertinently for companies, these consumers are not afraid to use their voices when it comes to causes they believe in. Lip service to environmental causes is not enough when anyone with access to a smartphone can fact check information and call brands out on social media.

Engaging with these socially conscious consumers isn’t easy, especially when it’s become positively trendy for brands to crow about their green credentials. In South Africa, just about every company of a certain size has a corporate social investment (CSI) strategy in place, leading to a natural wariness from consumers. The term “greenwashing” has been coined to disparage those companies that spend more money marketing how environmentally conscious they are than on actual efforts.

According to the Target Group Index, the largest single source brand survey in South Africa, local consumers are very willing to spend more money on socially conscious brands. They advise, however, that in order to win the hearts and minds of consumers, “marketers must be sure to get their green marketing messages aligned with consumer expectations.”

An appliance that’s been marketed as green but breaks down after six months is a good example of a misalignment. Another example would be a product that’s sustainably sourced but remains unaffordable to the target market.

Get the balance right and consumer loyalty will naturally follow. Woolworths, which recently embarked on a campaign with Pharrell Williams focused on sustainability, is one of South Africa’s most valuable brands. The brand has committed itself to ethical trade and sustainable production methods since 2007.

Today’s socially conscious consumer is a connected one, so it’s no surprise that the electronics industry is leading the way in consumer-first corporate sustainability practices. Companies like LG are making great strides in bringing long-lasting, energy efficient products to market. The majority of its products carry Energy Star ratings, a label that designates savings of $150 million in electricity costs over a product’s lifetime.

Nor are these efforts limited to the products themselves. The company has an e-waste programmes active around the world that seek to recycle electronic waste like old cell phones and discarded packaging. In the face of load shedding and electricity shortages, LG’s Switch-On campaign highlights energy-saving tips and educates consumers on what certain energy ratings mean.

As consumers choose to engage with brands such as these in increasing numbers, other companies have incentives to improve their own sustainability efforts. The socially conscious consumer is one with an enormous amount of power right now, and that can only be good news.

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CES: And thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for making and enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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