rubies 48 sheet

Source: Rubies in the Rubble

Rubies looks to address taste and nutrition, as well as its sustainability message

Over the past 10 years of growing Rubies in the Rubble, we have learned our mission is not the main driver of sales for our products – it’s the taste and quality ingredients.

When I launched Rubies, fighting food waste was the drum I banged on all our labels, flyers, social media and any collateral we created. However, we have carried out various tests to explore what consumers relate to best.

The most telling was a trial we did running two different neck tag messages. One was a sustainability-focused message – ‘fighting food waste’ – and the other was a taste-focused message of ‘love me or your money back’. The sale rate for the taste-based message was by far the most successful.

Similarly, a few years ago a survey on Tony’s Chocolonely revealed fewer than 4% of Tony’s consumers knew about its social mission and even fewer cared. The main messaging about Tony’s mission is on the inside of the wrapper.

So while food waste is still our primary focus at Rubies, we need to address the consumer’s primary purpose: taste and nutrition.

That said, there is now strong evidence showing consumers are buying into sustainability. Research this year by McKinsey showed products making ESG-related claims averaged 28% cumulative growth over the past five years, versus 20% for products that did not.

Cynically, one could question whether human values have actually changed. Or has sustainability just become fashionable? Is the increased interest in sustainable products just a case of those products improving their branding, or are consumers really becoming more discerning about what they are buying?

I would argue it’s a combination. But for sustainable brands to win and gain market share, they must communicate and address the consumer’s primary need, not just their mission.

When the two are combined, new brands can disrupt the incumbents. In our case, in the ketchup category, we need to shout that we can transform your plate with one dollop and that we can make an impact with every purchase.

Once we win over customers on taste, our purpose and brand keep them coming back. The consumer comes for the product but stays for the brand, its values and mission.