In November 2010, the German Sustainable Congress took place. This year marked a record number with 1,300 visitors. Amongst them was Philipp Gloeckler, the co-founder of avocado Store (www.avocadostore.de), a German online marketplace for sustainable products. During a Q&A press conference Philipp addressed the representative of McDonalds, questioning their advertised sustainability efforts by highlighting that the McCafé found at the congress did not offer any organic or fair trade products. Unusually, not even the organic milk that is found in their high street restaurants. The audience applauded, a slightly dazzled McDonald’s man struggled to find the right answer.
These days, many companies follow the eco trend by offering green products next to their conventional ones, assuming the customer doesn’t mind. Clearly, there is a very fine line between credibility and greenwash. I think that avocado Store is a great example of an authentic eco brand that is driven by the values of sustainability, consumption awareness and the power of the consumer. They overcommit on meeting and serving their customers’ need of obtaining a high level of product information by checking every single product in advance on meeting at least one of ten pre-defined sustainability criteria, such as carbon efficiency, resource efficiency, fair, organic or simply durability. Second, they explain individually why a product is awarded with respective sustainable criteria. Considering that there are now almost 4000 products on offer that is quite something (they are still a start-up, with only eight employees!). In addition, users are given a strong voice as they can evaluate the products and disagree with the sustainability criteria awarded by avocado Store which then leads to a rigorous removal of that product. The credibility is underlined by co-founder Philipp Gloeckler giving a face to the brand. On the stores website, he personally presents the idea of the store via a video message and on his personal Facebook page he demonstrates his commitment for the store by liking, well, almost every product, it seems.
But what I find most impressive is how straightforward the companies’ intention is. They challenge the likes of the amazon marketplace by claiming to offer a (better) green alternative to every conventional product. The business model is simple but until recently had not been executed: offering small suppliers of sustainable products the chance to reach a broad audience. It always needs visionary people who spot these market gaps and bring them to life. Avocado Store clearly saw the opportunity of a growing number of consumers looking to easily find and compare eco products online and, on the other hand, green suppliers having big difficulties reaching a wide audience and making their business profitable. They confidently took the challenge of competing against the market leader by combining strong sustainability values with commercial ambitions. Let’s wait and see them prosper.