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Published June 25th 2018

Recycled Shoes Are All The Rage For Increasingly Sustainable Shoppers

The Brandwatch React team analyzes conversations around various recycled shoe projects alongside data showing how consumers are becoming ever-more environmentally conscious.

With brand loyalty falling and consumers faced with more options than ever, aligning brand perception with an audience’s wants, needs and priorities is a no brainer.

In the age of the customer, people have the power and means to demand more from brands and to complain loudly when they don’t meet expectations, especially when it comes to matters like corporate social responsibility (CSR).

How CSR can play out online

Recently the React team conducted research around plastic waste and how it is perceived online.

The conversation, perhaps in tandem with the amount of pollution, has been growing and growing, pushed forward by shows like Blue Planet 2.

As conversations of this kind climb, it’s important to know how your own brand fits into them.

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Meanwhile, Brandwatch analysis in our Retail Stores Report found that when shoppers talked about brands within the context of CSR the tone tended to be negative.

“More often than not, when consumers were talking about values, beliefs or CSR in relation to retail brands, the conversations were not positive. This suggests that when your brand reflects your customers’ values and expectations, your customers respond with their patronage. When they don’t align, customers respond with their opinions.”

If your company is acting in a way that does harm to people or the planet you’re more likely to receive feedback on it than if you’re putting effort into doing something positive.

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So if your brand can create campaigns that both make people aware of CSR efforts as well as get them to talk positively about them online, you’re really on to a winner.


Recycled shoes: Supply and demand

Consumers want high quality products, but they also want them to be produced in non-harmful ways. Of course, this isn’t always easy – especially when consumers also value convenience – but there doesn’t necessarily have to be a clash between quality and sustainability.

An obvious example of this is the outpouring of love for recycled shoes. Look at those happy green emojis.

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Intrigued by the conversations we saw, the Brandwatch React team chose to analyze conversation around two brands that have created cool shoes from recycled materials:

  1. A running shoe from Adidas made from ocean waste.
  2. A lesser known project that took gum from the streets of Amsterdam and turned it into stylish footwear.
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In the time period we studied, the “gumshoe” project was getting an impressive share of voice compared to the mighty Adidas in English language conversations around recycled shoes.

Adidas project

Adidas have now sold a million pairs of their recycled plastic running shoes, made using plastic found in the ocean.

It’s a great example of a big brand using innovative technology to create products that make people happy and help out the planet.

Gumshoe project

The second most common litter type in Amsterdam is chewing gum, with 333,000 pounds of the stuff found on the streets every year. To help tidy up the streets, the city of Amsterdam launched the Gumshoe campaign which took that gum and turned it into snazzy looking shoes.

They were first announced in April 2018.

Given that this relatively small project was able to compete with Adidas in the recycled shoe conversation, there’s definitely something to say here about the willingness of consumers to talk openly about innovative projects that help the planet, whether or not they’re tied to a big brand. It goes to show that not all talk about CSR is negative, and it’s possible to generate supportive conversation through sustainability projects.

If you’re in any doubt about how your company might be able to get involved in some sustainable product development that’ll spark positive conversations, why not do some research around the causes your customers care about and use that data to inform your next brainstorm?

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