During the market research that I conducted into existing businesses, I came to the conclusion that there aren’t many other companies that are offering my specific business idea on a large scale. There are some small, independent business operating through the online marketplace ‘etsy.com‘. They are selling custom illustrated characters of people/pets and are offering these as prints, mostly aimed as family portraits. I couldn’t locate other businesses that were offering custom characters printed onto products in the way I stated that I would. I feel like this is an advantage for my business idea because it will help me to stand out in the market.
Through doing more research, I found an online based personalised merchandise company called Personalisedgiftshop that are offering a very wide range of personalised gifting options, such as clothing, homeware and stationary. However, the only way in which they allow you to personalise their gifts is through adding text to the products, not illustrated graphics like what I am proposing.
There are also some larger companies, such as Photobox, Snapfish and Boots Photo, which offer personalised photo gifts. As detailed in the previous example, their business model is based around printing photos onto their merchandise, not graphic designs. The website layout of these companies are designed very similarly, resulting in none of them standing out from each other. Their product range was also very similar, mostly including photobooks, calendars and mugs. This is a negative issue for the individuality of these businesses as they all blend in to each other in spite of any unique features they might have. It is important for a business to stand out, therefore this is something that I’m going to attempt with my business.
My research into these similar existing companies has revealed how high the demand for personalised gifting products is, which makes my idea appear more viable. However, it also shows that my business wouldn’t blend in with others because my idea offers the unique selling point of personalised characters.
Another aspect to help me to stand out is to ensure the business is environmentally friendly. I am concerned about the long term impact that our lifestyle is having on our planet and I feel that my environmentally conscious views need to be transferred into any business I create.
My first concern is that my business will be selling clothing products. There is currently a great concern regarding the environmental impact of the fashion industry. It ‘produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions, is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply, and pollutes the oceans with microplastics’ (McFall-Johnsen, 2019). Although my company isn’t primarily going to be a fashion company, I need to ensure that my products don’t contribute to a negative impact on the environment.
Being an environmentally friendly company does also have the benefit of making my business stand out by appealing to other environmentally conscious individuals. However, I am aware of the ‘greenwashing’ technique which many companies are guilty of. Greenwashing is described as ‘the practice of companies launching adverts, campaigns, products etc. under the pretence that they are environmentally beneficial’ (Ethical consumer, 2020). As there is now a ‘rising demand for environmentally sustainable products … companies apply greenwashing techniques to the promotion of their products in order to appeal to the environmentally-conscious consumer.’ (Ethical consumer, 2020). After doing some more research into greenwashing, I feel that the reason why most of the companies are greenwashing is to benefit from the financial gain as opposed to the environmental impact.
Some techniques that companies will use to appear more ‘green’ include adding natural looking graphics to their products such as grass or flowers. They also may use vague words in advertising their product to make them come across as ‘eco-friendly’ when the truth is quite the opposite.
I need to ensure that no greenwashing goes on in my business and that my products are genuinely environmentally friendly. I have to spend time in researching methods of running a greener company. One of the methods I have found is ‘green marketing’, which is ‘when companies sell products or services based on legitimate environmental positives.’ (Corcione, 2020). Some examples of green marketing criteria include being:
- ‘Manufactured in a sustainable fashion
- Free of toxic materials or ozone-depleting substances
- Able to be recycled and/or is produced from recycled materials
- Made from renewable materials (such as bamboo)
- Does not use excessive packaging
- Designed to be repairable rather than disposable’ (Corcione, 2020).
I will take the above points into consideration in order to ensure my business is as environmentally friendly as possible.
Overall, I am confident that my business idea is unique amongst others like it. Despite the fact that there aren’t any companies offering my specific idea, I do think there is still a gap in the market for my idea. This, including the considerable effort to be an environmentally friendly company, will hopefully make my idea a viable business option.
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McFall-Johnsten, M (2019) The fashion industry emits more carbon than international flights and maritime shipping combined. Here are the biggest ways it impacts the planet. Available online: https://www.businessinsider.com/fast-fashion-environmental-impact-pollution-emissions-waste-water-2019-10?r=US&IR=T (Accessed 21/10/2020].
Ethical Consumer (2020) What is greenwashing? Available online: https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/transport-travel/what-greenwashing [Accessed 21/10/2020].
Corcione, A (2020) What is greenwashing? Available online: https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/10946-greenwashing.html [Accessed 21/10/2020].