GANNI LAB: Red flags on a green banner, a marketing campaign

13.09.2022Azul Stengel, Co-founder of LienzoPhoto by Liubov Ilchuk
Posted on May 10th, 2021 by Ganni Lab on Instagram

Ganni has created a marketing campaign calling themselves out in everything they have done wrong. This bold and empowering strategy has so far been applauded across media and very well received by international audiences. As such, Ganni is trailblazing in everything that has to do with marketing in a sustainable world. The question is, what is it exactly that they are doing so well? While the answer to this is quite complex, the main point is the following one: they have communicated their brand as sustainable and not just their products.

There are several key steps to achieve this. This case study aims at shedding light on how a company can create a positive image by disclosing everything that they have done wrong. Furthermore, we want to point out how their communication strategy is built to create trustworthiness and promote themselves as sustainable without having to outright say these things. This is interesting because it gives the consumers the idea that they are getting to conclusions on their own, however, it is not as straightforward as that.

Let's start at the beginning: Ganni is a Danish company that sits between high end fashion houses like Dior, and fast fashion retail like Zara. It is described as having achieved a “sweet spot” in retail fashion and is one of the top 20 best sellers on Net-a-Porter. Known by its bold pieces and youthful approach, the company has recently incorporated sustainability into their brand DNA. The company has laid out a detailed plan to incorporate sustainable practices such as traceability of their value chain, eliminating the use of leather, reducing their carbon footprint and being more transparent. Ganni has created a separate task force and media platform called Ganni Lab, a separate instagram handle that communicates all of this social and environmental information. It is then that we will be analyzing how Ganni and Ganni Lab approached Transparency and how they have managed to be so successful in communicating their journey towards sustainability.

  1. Ganni Lab is going above and beyond on transparency requirements but Ganni not so much

Sharing, and over-sharing, is a crucial point on their brand strategy. Ganni is constantly communicating their environmental and social footprint. Ganni’s annual report clearly highlights the current status of their company and is not shy in declaring that they have to implement structural changes within their value chain (we invite everyone to read it!). Furthermore, they use the data collected for the annual report and regulatory requirements and communicate it on their social media platform. At Lienzo, we applaud this initiative as transparency is not only communicating the positive but also the negative impacts your company has across its value chain. While a lot of companies are “afraid” of being transparent on their annual reports due to possible public backlash, Ganni takes its failings in stride. This element is key as it allows the company to properly understand what are their pain points and construct solutions to them. Knowing what is wrong with your sustainability “health” is the first step in creating long-term goals that will allow you to correct your path towards responsible growth. But how do they do this without damaging brand reputation?

This is where their communication strategy is particularly effective. Ganni mostly communicates all of its environmental and social information through Ganni Lab. As a result, their main social media account and the brand image that they are curating is not tarnished by the environmental information that might not be attractive to their clientele.

While some of you might ask: why is this relevant since they are still disclosing the information? they even created a separate team dedicated to doing so!

The answer is simple: while Ganni has 1,1M followers, Ganni Lab has a mere 32,3K in comparison. That means that only 3% of the people that consume Ganni’s content, are aware of their environmental and social impact they choose to share. By creating a separate account, the brand is actively choosing to reach a smaller audience. In this way, the company can say that they are taking steps to communicating better with their consumers and checking transparency requirements, without directly sharing this information with their consumers.

  1. Ganni is sustainable even if some products are not

Transparency means informing the consumer about their achievements, but also their failings. We can see this is their focal point in their social media campaigns where they post about “The 9 products that are NOT responsible in our new collection”. What this achieves is that the consumer now has a list of the products that are not sustainable and why. This has two effects, the first one is trust. Because the consumer can rely on the company being transparent on what they are doing wrong, they will trust the information on what they are doing right. A great way to position the brand as trustworthy and transparent. However, the information provided is used to highlight not the things that have a negative impact, but rather, the efforts in place to change the situation. A great example of this is the following post for Soft Wool Knits: “We primarily use certified recycled and responsible wool, however for some styles we’re still looking for the right match”. There is a lot to unpack here but the message is clear: we use recycled and responsible sources. If we are being scrutinous, this information does not tell us anything about what are the actual materials used and what are the styles that are not sustainable. The differentiation between product and style is again subtle but very efficient since the product is regulated under international law and the style is not. Through wording, the company puts forward the goals and efforts they are implementing, without actually disclosing what fibers are being used on their products.

Posted on September 5th, 2022 by Ganni Lab on Instagram.
Posted on September 5th, 2022 by Ganni Lab on Instagram.

Now, the second effect is more interesting. By pointing out 9 products out of their whole collection that are not sustainable, this creates the impression that the rest of the products are, by contrast, sustainable. While the post does not declare that the list of non-sustainable products is exhaustive, it does create said impression. As such, brand perception now shifts to understand that the overall company creates environmentally and socially responsible products without them having to explicitly say so.

Their communication strategy has been very efficient in establishing that Ganni is in fact a sustainable brand, and regardless of what actual products are sustainable, buyers will be assured that the company is taking steps to improve their environmental and social footprint. As a result, their marketing campaign has been extremely efficient in transforming a constraint, such as sustainability, in an opportunity. Changing their branding DNA to embody that of sustainability and carrying a green banner across their communication channels, they have made it something profitable.

  1. They have made sustainability something they can sell

This last point is detrimental to understanding why and how their strategy has been created. Seeing the growth in demand for sustainable products, Ganni has led the way into creating a product that does not come with shoppers’ “guilt”. Consumers can happily shop any product at Ganni, whether sustainable or not, because they are sure that Ganni is a sustainable brand that aligns with their environmental and social values. Furthermore, they have created alternative revenue streams that, in theory, feed into a sustainable business model. At first glance, this post is fostering the extension of the life-cycle of the product and a more circular economy. However, this is not what this campaign is actually saying. This campaign is in reality fostering sales and promoting consumerism. As we all learnt at an early age, the first thing that we can do to help the environment is, in fact, reduce.

Posted on July 29th, 2022 by Ganni Lab on Instagram.

Now, the question that we pose ourselves is, can we really blame Ganni for making these choices?

The fact is that at no point is this company greenwashing or stating things that are untrue. Through clever marketing they manage to manipulate the light that is being shedded on the facts that could be perceived as negative. That is just good marketing if you ask me. Ganni can be applauded for their creativity and ingenuity in how they are doing something that the majority of the companies do not do today. By assuming their faults they have also laid out a clear path in which they can evolve. The company not only communicates their long-term vision and goals, but also their progress in achieving them. In terms of regulation, they not only comply with all international and local requirements, but also push for the implementation of policies across the board as they apply for different international certifications. This is an example of a company that has understood the financial market, the global reality and used one to leverage the other.

*All images are property of Ganni and Ganni Lab and were retrieved from their Instagram account.