“Deeds not words” is the motto of retail giant Coop when it comes to environmental protection. On the 30th anniversary of its brand Naturaplan, however, the company is committing a marketing misdeed.
Companies like to present themselves as environmentally friendly, and Swiss retailer Coop is usually no slouch in this regard.
But what is happening on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Naturaplan is sometimes considered too much, even by die-hard Coop families.
A surprise experience
On Saturday, the criticism at some places within Swiss Coop stores was that they had overshot the mark, as research by muula.ch revealed. There were namely virtually all employees, from the cash register, to the vegetable department to the meat stand dressed in green and white shirts.
“Finally, the celebrations of the Naturaplan anniversary can be experienced in all sales outlets,” the retailer had previously communicated on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Naturaplan brand.
In 1993, Coop launched the first organic brand in Swiss retail trade in cooperation with Bio Suisse. For three decades, Coop has been committed to environmentally friendly and animal-friendly products as well as sustainable projects under its own brand “Naturaplan”, the group said.
Individually packaged in plastic
But how sustainable is the promotion of this event at the Migros competitor, when all employees have to put on the shirt – for just one day.
Coop staff also sometimes reacted quite sniffily when they asked customers on Saturday about the meaning of this action in their green uniform look.
Some then even pulled out the plastic bag from the trash can, in which each shirt came individually wrapped, and was nicely labeled with the personnel identification of each employee.
From fat to thin, tall to lanky, all employee’s body sizes had to be accounted for, after all.
Mega logistics in the background
“In the anniversary year, customers can expect novelties, promotions and surprises, because they have contributed significantly to the success story,” Coop announced jubilantly on the 30th anniversary of Naturaplan.
But some of the customers just shake their heads when, under the cloak of environmental protection, practically all employees are provided with a shirt, shrink-wrapped in plastic foil, and for the surprise of just one day.
Hardly anyone wants to talk about all of the logistics behind the scenes, from the production of the shirts, the wrapping, embroidering the company’s own logo and the staff member’s name, then vast delivery to the entire workforce.
Makes a nice duster?
Sure, the company certainly hopes that one or other employee won’t simply throw the garment away or offer it for used clothing collection. But the rather cheap-looking material and the green gingham-check pattern are likely to keep most people from ever wearing it again.
Ultimately, the whole roll-out, quite environmentally unfriendly, ugly and unsustainable, may simply end up in garbage cans as land-fill.
In this respect, one can certainly speak of an ‘environmental sin’ on the occasion of the Naturaplan anniversary.
“In the current range at Coop, there is hardly any food that is not available in organic quality,” Coop also wrote literally in its communiqué.
This is surprising, because Naturaplan is therefore actually nothing special anymore. ‘Organic quality’ has become the new norm.
Marketing in reverse gear
And there would probably be no need for special uniform shirts for the staff as a marketing campaign for an anniversary of just one day, which shows the environmental awareness of the retail group Coop in an oblique light.
Apart from the environmental aspect, the whole promotion might actually backfire into a marketing flop.