Develop & implement an international digital platform connecting consumers & producers to create & anchor sustainable behaviors.
The creation of an interactive international platform connecting consumers and producers will lead to sustainable and effective ways to consume and produce. It will do so by creating a two-way relationship while at the same time introducing Japanese crafts products in Europe and the US.
Consumers will be able to learn about the story behind the products (e.g., production methods, traditions, design, utility, durability, etc.). Japanese craftsmen will concurrently be given the opportunity to pass on information about their products, where, how, why they were made. In addition, by openly discussing production costs, consumers will better understand product prices. Moreover, the producers can react to suggestions for improving or modifying their products, and thus increase their skills and better meet market needs.
Through their purchasing power, consumers have considerable influence on the production and the subsequent use of sustainable products. Worldwide population growth is leading to the depletion of natural resources; mass-production and mass-consumption are no longer sustainable. Consumers are increasingly feeling the need to relate to important causes; they want to feel engaged through their purchases. It was recently pointed out in an article in the New York Times  that origin matters to consumers when buying food and fashion products. The same holds true with regards to the consumption of crafts products. This involvement can contribute to the revival of craftsmanship and its traditions and thereby support local communities who make a living from craftsmanship.
Why Japanese craftsmanship? Japanese craftsmanship is unique and has survived many centuries but it is currently suffering. Younger generations are no longer willing to become craftsmen/women for economic reasons; hence traditions and know-how are disappearing. Yet there is still a strong interest in Western countries for Japanese craftsmanship, design, culture and traditions.
Category of the action
Changing public perceptions on climate change
What actions do you propose?
The development and implementation of the international digital platform is based upon the following actions:
- Establish how the use of digital and social media can create sustainable consumerism and hence encourage sustainable production. While we live in a global world where access and dissemination of information through digital and social media is fast and instantaneous, more and more actions are taken at local levels. Global issues are increasingly tackled at community’s level and digital/social medias and innovative technologies can participate effectively in creating/improving sustainable consumers’ and producers’ behavior. Besides, traditional marketing strategies are not effective anymore within the realm of social medias. Some marketers are now considering not thinking as marketers anymore when developing marketing campaigns. There is a need for new ways of thinking beyond prevailing marketing and branding strategies.
- Study the evolution and revival of design & craftsmanship and establish how they can contribute to the development of sustainable societies, from techniques, resources use and utilization perspectives.
- Consult and involve local craftsmen/women in Japan into the overall life cycle of products, integrate and understand their perspectives, raise awareness and understanding on the interests of foreign (Western) markets for their products.
- As craftsmanship will become more prevalent and awareness towards crafted products is raised, it may support the development of craftsmanship education in Japan, and encourage younger generations to work as craftsmen/women.
The outcome of these actions will consist in developing and implementing a digital platform (& potentially an App) for Japanese designed and crafts products which will allow creating bounds between producers and consumers. More specifically:
- Consumers can learn and enquire about products directly to the producers. Consumers can for instance state their needs, order a tailor made product, or ask how the product is made, and what is the justification for the price. This can contribute to demystify the perception that sustainable produced items are necessarily more expensive. Or, when it is the case, the platform can allow producers to provide reasons for it (for instance, the use of local produced resources). It can also provide transparency in the pricing structure.
- Producers can better understand customers. By engaging directly with consumers, producers can better understand their needs, tastes, and behavior and can more effective in creating products that are really needed. This will allow saving resources.
- The platform offers a new value to consuming: experience. Consumers are increasingly affected by environmental damages and international economic recession. They are questioning the meaning of their life, and are willing to change their behaviors towards a more meaningful and qualitative life through consumption. They are not interested in owning products anymore but rather access them (e.g. car sharing) and/or experience them (e.g. denim fashion).
- Behavioral change is led by early adopters. Capturing the demand of early adopters is key for making shifts. As a shift is currently happening in Western countries, this platform based on behavioral change of early adopters will support this shift.
Who will take these actions?
Social entrepreneurship and innovative technology companies
Marketing and Branding companies
Where will these actions be taken?
Japan, Europe, USA
How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?
What are other key benefits?
- This cross-disciplinary project will allow partners with different expertise and skills (craftsmen/women, branding/design/marketing companies, social entrepreneurship companies, new technologies companies and consumers) to work together and collaborate on implementing sustainable practices.
- Develop a model/prototype digital platform (and possibly an App) to support sustainable consumption and production while introducing Japanese craftsmanship/design onto European/US markets. It is the hope of the team that this project will encourage similar initiatives.
- Contribute to the development of adapted new technologies necessary to develop this platform (e.g. language translation).
- Offer a fresh perspective about the role of social and digital medias, innovation and marketing/branding strategies in encouraging sustainable consumption and production.
What are the proposal’s costs?
Now – October 2013
- Preliminary research
- Develop further the concept of the proposal
- Look for partners
November 2013 – March 2014
- Active realisation phase of the project.
- Partners to develop, refine and implement the project.
- Launch platform
 Some Retailers Say More About Their Clothing’s Origins. Article written by Stephanie Clifford, published in The New York Times on May 8, 2013. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/business/global/fair-trade-movement-extends-to-clothing.html?_r=0