The Role of Social Conscience in the Brand and Consumer Relationship Today

Plastic pollution is not only destroying the ocean but with each of us eating a credit-card of plastic every week *, consumers are demanding action from their favourite brands to make a change and ensure that there is purpose in profit. Justin Moran, founder of eco-brand The Hidden Sea discusses how consumer choice and alongside purpose in profit can help save the planet with Pete Fairclough, Brand Manager at Kingsland Drinks – a leading UK’s drinks company.


Justin Moran is a change-maker. He wants to remove and recycle 1 billion plastic bottles from the ocean by 2030, and he’s selling great-tasting premium wine to make it happen. Together with retired Australian Football League star Richie Vandenberg, Justin founded The Hidden Sea to create a brand which empowers its customers to make change happen with every purchase. “This is not another drinking moment,” he says, “this is a movement. We make premium wine for people with a social conscience, who want to change the world for good.”

For every bottle of The Hidden Sea sold, 10 plastic bottles are removed and recycled from the ocean. They do this in partnership with ReSea Project, a community-driven company operating in Southeast Asia, which is a major recipient of plastic waste from countries around the world, including the UK. To date, The Hidden Sea has removed and recycled over 7.5 million plastic bottles from our ocean.

Read More: SalesTechStar Interview with Jason Zintak, CEO at 6sense

COP26 was seen as the answer to climate change – world leaders coming together to unite in reducing carbon emissions. However, Justin has always believed that change is down to the individual. With that individual now in control of how brands act thanks to its spending power – is the consumer going to save the world?.

“Customers now know the value of their consumer spending power. Consumers want brands to represent them – to stand up and make a difference. The customer’s pound is way more valuable to brands than it was 15 years ago” – said Justin.

The role of social media and mobile technology cannot be underestimate in this consumer v brand power shift. How consumers now shop is very different to how they made decisions before e-commerce. Consumer behaviour is very fluid – with greater influences and accessibility, brand management is constant.

Pete Fairclough, Brand Manager from Kingsland Drinks said; “What we are seeing is growth in smaller, independent brands who are thriving because they are agile and able to listen to the consumer from the start. They are totally purpose driven in a way that’s emotive to consumers who want to have a positive, sustainable impact on the environment. Independent brands have less internal red tape, so are able to lead by example and have a real, authentic grassroots mission to them.”

Justin believes that the change in consumer engagement with brands can only be a good thing, yet should brands – whose purpose of existing is primarily to make profit – be taking the role of social conscience barometer?

“What we are seeing is consumers turning to brands for their connection to society. Over the past 5 years we have seen how people are now much more insular in how they live their life and the pandemic has heightened this – but still want  to be part of a gang, to fit in, to crusade and be passionate about their beliefs and the world. Social media has enabled brands to fill this gap and galvanise consumers – and become very twined with their daily lives. However, the pay-off for this is that brands have to be genuine from the start – otherwise consumers will soon see through the smoke and mirrors and start scrolling for the next brand to represent them”; Justin believes.

Since 2016, there has been a huge increase in consumers using the internet to specifically search and engage with sustainable brands. A 71% rise in searches for sustainable goods has coincided with a huge ‘eco-wakening’ in all consumers across the world – regardless of wealth and a great increase in concern for our environment. As technology advances – and brands vie for greater market share, will it be brands that put purpose before profit that will triumph, and if they do – what does success look after?

Pete Fairclough, from Kingsland Drinks concluded; “Going forward, success will be very much about authenticity and delivering on the brand’s mission – to remove plastic from the world’s ocean.”

Read More: SalesTechStar Interview with Jim Thomsen, CEO at Zimmi

Consumer RelationshipCOP26e-commerceFootball LeagueGuest Authorsmobile technologySalesTechStarSocial Consciencesocial media