I am here to share my findings and analyzations on Ecoist, the fashion accessories brand that only uses recyclable materials. This critique will be emphasizing Ecoist's marketing strategies and how they have become the recycled handbag retailer they are today. In section 2 of this critique, I will be profiling the company and discussing all the many ways Ecoist chooses to market their company, such as the use of the environment. I will explore this marketing strategy further into what happens when there's a misperception about the brand using recycled materials and how they solved it by publicizing the eco-image. After discussing those strategies, I will then offer my opinion and comments in section 3. From there, I hope to gain your understanding of what I write here in this critique and agree with my comments and opinions. Now, I will begin section 2 by profiling Ecoist, summarizing the video and what the company is all about.
Ecoist is a company that makes accessories and handbags out of recycled materials, such as candy wrappers, newspapers, soda labels, and more. The beginning of the video explains their business model as partnering with big companies like Coca-Cola and M&M that have “access packaging”. Being able to get this packaging in bulk means more bags can be created and also not let the recycled materials go to waste. The company was founded in Miami in 2011 by co-founder, Jonathan Marcoschamer. What sparked his vision was when he was on a trip to Mexico and came across a bag handmade out of candy wrappers by a local artisan in a marketplace. He really liked the concept and story behind it, which led to the vision behind Ecoist. The company asked themselves how they could make this larger scale while making a story out of it and helping others in undeveloped countries. Marcoschamer states that the name of the company is derived from its definition meaning, “an individual that lives a modern, eco-minded lifestyle”. The company is all about providing good products of style while helping others and being respectful of the planet.
One specific challenge the video talks about is the negative perception of using recycled materials for bags and accessories. Marcoschamer discusses how this became a challenge because people were used to seeing materials they recognized, such as cotton and leather instead of a recycled candy wrapper as well as the price point along with that. Along with this, the other challenge was that buyers were asking for identical bags, but the cofounder describes this as difficult because sometimes they couldn't get identical wrappers and materials in bulk. So, they had to make do with what they had and were given, which in the end gave each product charm and feeling of individuality. Most consumers actually preferred this because it made their bag different and unique from others. In regard to the issue of price, many found that because it was made from waste that it shouldn't be expensive, but Marcoschamer states, “it's handmade and 95% percent of the products costs is hand labor”. The video then shows the solution as being to “publicize the eco-image”. Press and publicity on the brand in magazines and TV shows has really helped it become more understood by consumers. This kind of publicity helps the consumers understand that the products are unique and handmade one by one and why it isn't as cheap as someone might assume. The co-founder also claims that part of their strategy is “to be transparent and create a bond between the brand and the customers”.
When looking up more recent information on the company, I found that there was no website except for a Facebook that didn't look too updated. Some articles insinuated that the company is out of business, but there was no definite answer to be found.
When looking at the bags, I immediately recognized them although I did not recognize the brand name. I have either seen Ecoist's bags or ones very similar in boutiques before. I believe I had a change purse once with the same concept. While I didn't find these to be the most fashionable products, I did enjoy their uniqueness. When you first see an actual bag like this, it definitely catches your eye because of how different it is. While I believe in their one of a kind qualities, I don't think it was enough. While many people like to think that they want to be eco-friendly, fashion is fashion and not everything is always in style. I believe that to many these bags were beautiful for their story, but I don't think they were fashionable enough to give the company a steady income. If anything, I could see this type of product being a trend, one that ends very quickly. I do think a lot of publicity was the right move though because most consumers want what the “it” person has or is talking about, such as Oprah or Vanity Fair magazine. This type of publicity gave the product what it needed to be known and understood. Even then though, I do not believe it was enough to keep the company in business.
After looking for their website and having no luck, I ran across and couple headlines about Ecoist no longer being in business. It was then under my assumption that it was true. So clearly something with their marketing strategy wasn't working. I personally believe they were smart in sharing the story behind the bag so that consumers understood the labor and craftsmanship that went into each bag. That also helped consumers understand the price a little better, but at the end of the day I believe the style simply went out of trend. These days, it is very difficult making it in the fashion world. Most people always want the next big thing, similar to the iPhone where people will pre-order the newest one without even knowing anything about it, but just because it's new. It also has to do with brand following. I like what Ecoist's background and what they were going for, but in today's age a story isn't enough to keep a brand thriving for a long period of time. Personally, I think the brand could have done a lot worse than they did. I believe the press really aided them. I think the brand could have benefited from a stronger branding strategy and create different collections that may also be made of recycled materials, but not necessarily just candy wrappers and soda labels. To keep the business going, they needed to keep up with trends and create variety so consumers didn't get bored of the same products. Overall, I believe the company had potential, but not enough to keep it thriving in today's fashion market.
...(download the rest of the essay above)