Inspiration for a greener tanning industry from the Arzignano tanning district.

And the leather ‘re’ becomes a cult

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It refers to the very-social campaign targeting Gen Z and Millenials by Leather Naturally

Fernando Bellese, a member of Leather Naturally’s steering committee, an association that gathers various stakeholders of the leather industry to promote the use of globally manufactured sustainable leather, is of the opinion that the industry enjoys a fairly good reputation. He does not believe that there is an ongoing reputational crisis, but rather the industry has not communicated the qualities of its product well enough – ‘Today it is a product that finds itself competing with many “odd” materials that certainly do not have the qualities of the leather yet are conquering market shares’, Bellese believes.

If we talk about the issues with its reputation – Belleseexplains – they are limited to some niches of consumers who are beginning to wonder if leather is sustainable. In this case, we must recognize two great responsibilities of the industry. The first is that we need to make sure that no tanneries operating within unsuitable standards have space in this industry, even if they represent a small portion of the companies making leather. The second is that the sector has to come up with more contemporary messages. Consumers don´t want to know if leather is a by-product of meat, they are interested in knowing that it is a product in line with their way of life’.

Regarding the communication campaign Leather Naturally is launching to target the young population, Bellese believes it will ‘reconnect leather and its values with the younger generations’. According to him, leather will be portrayed as something exciting, trendy and associated with fashion, art and lifestyle. The online image-based campaign will be aimed at Millenials and Gen Z – between 18 and 35 years of age – the same group that, according to a report by Bain & Co in 2017, will constitute 45% of the global market by 2025.

If we do everything by ourselves, we will certainly fail, because we would be considered too old fashion’, Bellese points out. ‘But there are professionals who can communicate to these audiences. We have identified them now, and a communication plan has been put in place’. However, social media also involves exposure and risk. How do they intend to tackle possible crises? ‘Obviously, communication implies exposing oneself and inevitably implies the possibility of negative comments. But it cannot be denied that this would give us the opportunity to respond in a clear and transparent way, therefore, it will work to our advantage’, answers Bellese.

An intensive fundraising activity has already started with the intention to finance the campaign for the first year, although Leather Naturally hopes that the companies, given the positive results, would decide to continue financing it for at least five more years. ‘The more the industry communicates, the more successful it will be’. But why should tanneries support an industry campaign instead of engaging in their own campaign for their private companies? ‘Because the more the product will be sought after’, concludes Bellese, ‘the greater the growth opportunities for everyone in the industry. But if the industry does not communicate, we all would have much to lose’.

For further information on the campaign and supporting opportunities, write to info@leathernaturally.org

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