Oatly Dips His Toes In Recycled Products


For a brand of oat milk, Oatly has had a pretty big year. In fact, we’re pretty sure any business – oatmeal or not – would say that creating their first Super Bowl spot and going public in 2021 would make year one for the books.

So what’s the next step for the brand? Apparently, merch. Upcycled merch, that is.

The cowless wonder has already dipped her toes into the merch (remember the ‘I totally hated that Oatly commercial’ t-shirt he sold?), But this time the brand says they are doing it. a way that’s better for the planet… or so it says. Rather than using their products to acquire new customers or make a profit, Heidi Hackemer, Oatly’s Executive Creative Director for North America, told Marketing Brew that the brand really wants to continue wooing its loyalists and customers. keep milking oats for years to come.


Of course, Oatly hasn’t so subtly tried to position itself as a sustainable brand in the past (think: grants to independent coffee makers to pursue sustainability-related projects, partnering with MLB teams like Texas Rangers to introduce more plant-based foods in the menu stage).

And oat milk itself has been hailed as better for the planet than cow’s milk in many ways. For example, 650 square meters (7,000 square feet) of land is needed to produce “a glass of cow’s milk every day for a year,” according to a University of Oxford study cited by BBC News. That’s more than 10 times the land needed for oat milk production, according to the study.

But for its new ReRuns program, Oatly is not only peddle an environmentally friendly product – recycled products are good for the community too. All proceeds from the sale go to the Lower Eastside Girls Club, a New York-based nonprofit that benefits young women and “sexist youth” through mentorship and activities like rooftop gardening. .

That’s part of why the first course of Oatly’s recycled product experience was a rather lavish dish: a vintage denim jacket drop. Between October 18 and 22, the company dropped off two vintage denim jackets on its site per day… at $ 250 a pop.

Hackemer told us that jackets are expensive because “every jacket is a work of art”. Each jacket bears a unique illustration of the Oatly brand by a female artist.

“These artists are amazing, so we wanted to make sure that we put that value on the jackets and that we could also divert as much money as possible to the Lower East Side Girls Club,” continued Hackemer. Oatly pays every artist for their work.

The second course was more dollar pizza than caviar, made up of recycled Oatly-branded t-shirts (provided by and in partnership with second-hand clothing company Goodfair), which cost between $ 18 and $ 24, according to shirt.

The third class = TBD, as Oatly plans to release a series of vintage holiday sweaters designed by different artists in December.

But what is “sustainable” really?

Of course, just because something feels sustainable, or is labeled as such, doesn’t always mean it is (hence greenwashing). Marketing Brew asked Laura Burget, co-founder of Three Ships, a beauty brand created in response to the large amount of waste and greenwashing in the skincare space that uses recycled ingredients, her opinion on gout. ‘Oatly.

For jackets in particular, she said the high price could actually hurt consumers’ perceptions of eco-friendly fashion. “Often, consumers have this misconception that sustainable purchases are going to cost more. Very few people can afford to spend $ 250 on a denim jacket. Sustainability only really works if people can afford it; otherwise, we just make them think that sustainability or green technologies or green products are more expensive and therefore inconvenient or ‘not for them’, ”Burget continued.

Perhaps that’s why, even among Oatly’s biggest fans, only seven of the 10 jackets sold “right away,” Hackemer told us. (Eight have sold so far, according to their website.) But otherwise, Burget didn’t smell fishy in the oat milk. “I am a big fan of upcycling. We also recycle our own ingredients a lot, and I think that’s a really, really important thing for brands, ”she told us.

Hackemer also said that Oatly has taken steps to ensure that the process of shipping and packaging merchandise is environmentally friendly. “We try to use minimal packaging …[and] we make sure to use recycled materials as much as possible in our shipments, ”she explained.

It should be noted that Oatly ended up in hot oat milk water over the summer when activist investment firm Spruce Point Capital Management accused the brand of greenwashing. The company claimed that Oatly lacked transparency with investors regarding its (allegedly) not-so-green use of water and its transportation habits in the United States.

Oatly said the allegations were “false and misleading”. A statement the company shared with Marketing Brew reiterated that response, adding: “We have also publicly reported that a special committee of our independent board of directors has reviewed the report with the assistance of independent legal counsel and of forensic accountants. The special committee has completed the review and we are fully satisfied with the accuracy and effectiveness of our reports. “

The KING of it all

Hackemer told us that Oatly does not promote its products through advertising; instead, the brand is currently focused on reaching its biggest fans.

“There hasn’t been a massive marketing campaign against it,” Hackemer explained, adding that the only channels Oatly used to advertise the product were promotional emails to said followers, organic posts on Instagram. and a small amount of paid social networks.

Rather than tracking return on investment (ROI) with this project, Hackemer explained that Oatly is not going to be “the slave of metrics” for this one. Instead, she said, the drop in merchandise is aimed at brand loyalists, which is why Oatly hasn’t spent a lot of money promoting it to the public.

“Don’t underestimate the power of a loyalist. Loyalists … are the ones who will take care of you and defend you. To take care of our devotees who have been there with us from the start and who have made us who we are, we are willing not to have the smartest ROI on this. The brand’s obsession with ROI actually belittles the relationship with people, and we’re not interested in belittling the relationship with people, ”Hackemer told us.

Morning Consult retail and e-commerce analyst Claire Tassin told Marketing Brew that the brand’s lack of focus on tangible metrics made sense. “If it makes them money, great, but that doesn’t really seem like the point,” Tassin told us. “It’s about the ability to connect with these fans and reinforce their brand values ​​more than selling the jackets. “

Additionally, from a financial standpoint, Tassin said it is cheaper to keep a loyal customer than to acquire a new customer. “If this campaign is mainly visible to already loyal customers and it helps to build loyalty or encourage repeat purchases or more frequent purchases of these existing customers, then it’s a good thing for the revenue, ”explained Tassin.

One last thing

Oatly knocked down just one a little Super Bowl tea with us… or at least his mindset on why he wouldn’t give us juicier deets. “We are very shy. We never reveal our Super Bowl plans, so you’ll just have to watch… We didn’t give any teasers last year – we’re pretty low-key when it comes to things like that, ”he said. declared Hackemer.


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