Make sustainability tangible to customers: Interview with Kelly Beater (felix mobile)
We hear the phrase ‘balancing profit with purpose’ but how does it play out on a micro and macro level for marketers?
In this interview, Marketing speaks with Kelly Beater, the head of sales and marketing at felix mobile, a digital telco with an environmental mission. We discuss how to put customers and the planet first – and how to tangibly show that to the world.
Showing brand values to customers
An IBM Institute for Business Value survey recently found that nine in 10 consumers surveyed reported the COVID-19 pandemic affected their views on sustainability and made them grow increasingly concerned about the environment. With this in mind, it is not surprising that more brands are taking action.
Australia’s new digital-only telco, felix mobile, launched last year and has quickly established itself as a green business. Kelly Beater says that the company didn’t at the outset aim to be a sustainable telco, but the brand evolved through listening to the needs of consumers during the development phase.
“We knew the target audience, who were digital natives, and we actually brought them in to understand what they cared about and what was important to them,” says Beater.
By listening to the feedback of their audience, felix found “two nuggets of gold”. First of all, that people viewed telcos as a “necessary evil” and something that should be easy and convenient. The second insight, says Beater, was that people really cared about their impact on the environment, but they did not want to sacrifice value or spend more money.
Being sustainably focused, it seemed, was something that could transcend industries. From there, felix evolved as a carbon neutral company, powered by 100 percent renewable electricity. With simplicity in mind, it launched as an online-only brand that offers one plan available at one price. After considering a range of environmental initiatives, felix vowed to plant one tree per customer for every month of active subscription.
Beater says that the commitment to plant trees was a tangible way to demonstrate environmental goals to customers.
“It’s awesome because you actually can see that tangible impact. For a lot of customers, being carbon neutral is sort of a little bit fuzzy and vague. What does that actually even mean? Whereas, when we plant 75,000 trees, people get that.”
Beater believes that tangible action can also take the form of being transparent with customers.
“We really wanted to make sure if people had any questions, they could double click and they could see exactly how we are carbon neutral, who we’ve partnered with and all the calculations. So it’s all available for customers to make sure that we are doing what we’re saying.”
Campaigns and creative
Creative campaigns are another tangible way a marketer can demonstrate the values of a brand to the world.
Recently, Beater collaborated with creative agency Paper Moose for a campaign on World Environmental Day. The outcome was a painted mural in the Melbourne CBD that absorbs CO2 emissions like a tree.
A part of the project, and all campaigns, is putting thought and consideration into the kinds of companies they want to partner with. Alignment is a good way to demonstrate values.
“We’ve created really clear and easy brand values,” says Beater.
To create strong values, she says a brand needs to really look at the purpose of a company, why it exists, then create values underneath that purpose. With work and commitment, those values will then transcend into how a business operates, internally and externally.
Balancing profit with purpose
Beater is passionate about balancing profit with purpose. In her view, the two are closely intertwined.
“From a profitability point of view, you have to listen to your customers and you need to deliver something that your customers want. And I think there is a huge growing number of people that really care about the environment,” she says. “It may not be the number one purchase consideration, but it is one of the key purchase considerations. So to be successful from a profit profitability point of view, you need to address your customer’s needs.”
Beater says addressing needs and creating good experiences positively impacts retention and also referrals – which in turn leads to profitability.
Though, Beater does acknowledge that while people are becoming more aware of environmental issues, it isn’t necessarily leading to behavioural change. Beater thinks there is an element of habit, laziness and cost that prevents people from making environmentally conscious changes or purchase decisions. Things need to be easy, convenient and affordable. And as a marketer, a key element of creating change is education around the real environmental impacts of business.
Beater has noticed that felix customers are proud to be making more sustainable choices. Recently she was surprised to notice that customers were even uploading SIM card unboxings on social media, showing off the sustainable packing and seeds provided.
“I’ve never seen a SIM package unboxing in my life. So it shows you that the customer, our customers, are really proud to be part of something that’s more than just providing a telco service.”
In a bid to encourage more Australians to sign up, felix has a goal to plant 1 million trees by the end of 2022. With 67,000 trees planted so far, it is ambitious – but every tree counts.
Kelly Beater is the head of sales and marketing at felix mobile.