From the beginning of the health crisis, the appetite for ecology gained new momentum. So much so that the growth in sales of green foods in March exceeded conventional foods by 15 points, according to Nielsen. Today, everyone wants organic. Consumers who care about their health and the environment. And entrepreneurs, attracted by the double-digit growth of these products and the astonishing margins they promise. However, it is not enough to put an “organic” or “eco-responsible” label on the packaging of one’s goods to see their sales increase. “Rule number 1 for success: offer high-quality products, worked with sincerity”, advises Philippe Vincent, the founder of the company Retail&Detail. Going organic is demanding. To meet customer expectations, you must have a strong environmental conviction.
Plan for a solid cash flow
Going organic requires an appropriate business model. With a muscular treasury. “In organic, the price of raw materials is much higher than in regular products, emphasizes Rémi Layalle, managing director of Papate, an organic childcare brand whose products are made in France. In addition, the cost of the hexagonal labor is also higher. In total, the cost price of an organic product is five to ten times higher than that of a conventional product.
Automatically, the company’s working capital requirement (WCR) exceeds the requirement for a classic box. With such costs, and to keep the public prices of her toys from increasing, Alexandra Morge Rochette, co-founder of Fabulabox, has reduced her margins and based her strategy on selling large quantities. Another impact on its business model. “We decided to export sooner than expected.” With success: The brand was launched in 2018 and is already present in the Netherlands, Greece and Denmark.
Show yourself more royal than the king
Today, the organic label alone is no longer enough to ensure the success of an article. “It’s become a standard,” says Elie Cohen, creator of Fairblue jeans. To be credible, one must go as far as possible in the responsible approach. Thus, the Parisian entrepreneur offers vegan pants: the leather on his labels is made from pineapple and corn. It is necessary to find the points of differentiation that customers who are concerned about the impact of their purchases on the planet will be sensitive: Zero waste and anti-waste, chosen by Julie Ducret, for example, for her Pulpe de Vie cosmetics.
>> Read also – Bioburger bets on combining fast food and organic, and it works!
Local and made in France (recognized by 45% and 39% of French people) are also on the rise. It’s inclusive too (that is, the articles adapted to different people). It is up to you to find the right arguments. However, without falling into the opposite excess and printing too many labels and logos on your packaging. Beyond a certain threshold, consumers saturate and no longer discriminate. This is what marketers call “feature fatigue”. “Focus on three or four mentions that really express the value of your business. It is better to have a few that are relevant rather than many that cause confusion”, summarizes Nathalie Spielmann, teacher-researcher at Neoma Business School.
Get ready to fulfill many obligations
Organic certification is very restrictive. Your customers are ready to pay more for an organic product (75% more expensive on average in food, according to “Linéaires” magazine). But they are real experts, you don’t want to fool them. So avoid greenwashing. In addition to their costs (counting from 1,000 to 2,500 euros per year), the labels are highly monitored and include several hundred control points, from the origin of your manufacturing ingredients to your logistics, including your accounting and your suppliers. If you’re not ready to go all the way and let listeners look around, give up!
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Choose the right distribution channel
To sell your products, there are several solutions available to you. Direct sales via your website. But also specialist shops. Biocoop, Les Comptoirs de la bio, Le Marché de Léopold, etc., there are more and more of them. “By referring to you, these brands give you credibility. They are preferable to catch-all marketplaces,” continues Rémi Layalle. Finally, you can knock on the doors of mass distribution, provided you offer an innovative product. “Supermarkets are happy to organic goods, which gives them a modern image. But they already have a lot,” warns Philippe Vincent. To choose the right channel, “make sure your marketing mix is consistent,” advises Nathalie Spielmann. In the minds of customers, “local ” products with goods made by artisans. They have no place in supermarkets.
>> Also read – Entrepreneurship: 5 ideas for solidarity and responsible franchises
Boost your communication
Finally, to be recognized in this ultra-demanding universe, it is necessary to adopt a “multiplied” communication. Like Fabulabox, many VSEs dream of raising money to advertise and gain fame. In the meantime, on their website they explain in great detail what they produce and how they do it. Fairblue jeans and Fabulabox have posted dozens of pages of texts, images and videos online, requiring hours of reading to properly explain their activity. Excessive? Maybe. But when it comes to such innovative things as jeans made without water and toys without petroleum, there is no alternative.
>> Read also – How Jho became the leading brand of organic feminine hygiene products
Ten labels to know
- AB. This is the French brand that guarantees that your product contains at least 95% certified organic ingredients. It is optional.
- Möbius strip (triangular logo consisting of three arrows). Indicates a product that is recyclable or made from 65% recycled materials.
- Cosmebio. For organic and organic cosmetics.
- Demeter. Organic products from biodynamic agriculture, that is to say dealing with respect for the soil’s fertility.
- Ecocert. Certification body that, among other things, issues the European organic label.
- Eurosheet (leaf-shaped logo). This European organic label is mandatory.
- European Ecolabel (flower shaped logo). Health and environmentally friendly products.
- Made in France (“made in France”). Article whose last stage of manufacture was carried out on national territory.
- GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard). Certifies that the textiles that make up the clothing are organic and respect the environment and people.
- Guaranteed French origin. The product contains at least 50% French ingredients.
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Testimony from Emmanuel Berthod, founder of BioPoolTech
“We are a bit like the Teslas of the swimming pool. In 2016, we created a brand of ecological swimming pools: our models are made of wood, they do not contain a gram of concrete, they work without chlorine, without salt and are more economical for flushing water and electricity than conventional swimming pools. They are also very aesthetic and we have deliberately positioned them at the top and at the top of the range market (corresponding to 40% of the French swimming pool market worth 2 billion euros). They are intended for “hipsters”, fans of ecology and technologies, ready to pay 5% more than a traditional first-class swimming pool. Our team has 15 employees and 10 franchisees. The company should see its revenue double this year to reach 3 million euros.”
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