June 12, 2019
Joining us on the Marketing Mix Podcast is Brian Bushell, CEO & Co-Founder at by Humankind. Brian discusses market solutions to the single use plastic waste epidemic, how local influencers are achieving global impact and the growing collaboration between private and public players when it comes to the environment. As an advocate for leading with inspiration and not fear, Brian explains why one of the best things he ever did for his success was firing himself.Listen to "Brian Bushell, CEO & Co-Founder, by Humankind" on Spreaker.
Jeff Ragovin: With your experiences founding Baked By Melissa, how did you transition to founding by Humankind?
Brian Bushell: I Co-Founded Baked By Melissa with my sister but stepped away after 8 years as CEO in order to ensure the company’s success as it grew. During a scuba diving trip off the coast of Thailand, I was surrounded by piles of plastic waste. That was day 1of me learning about this global crisis of single use plastic waste. We as humankind are addicted to this material and we must get off it.
Jeff Ragovin: Was that the moment you realized you had to do something about it?
Brian Bushell: No, it was when I returned to my hotel and realized I was part of this problem. I quickly learned that ⅓ of all the garbage in our landfills come from personal care products and that all plastic we have used is still on earth in some form, it takes over a thousand years for plastic to biodegrade. It all starts with finding a better way to package products we use everyday.
Jeff Ragovin: What is by Humankind up to right now?
Brian Bushell: We are striving to eliminate single use plastic waste. We’ve launched three products; mouthwash, deodorant, and shampoo. We eliminated the mouthwash container by creating a tablet that transforms water into mouthwash. Instead of disposing of your deodorant when it’s empty, why not refill it with a disposable pod, eliminating 90% of plastic waste from deodorant. We transformed shampoo into a bar, eliminating the plastic container.
Jeff Ragovin: What are some challenges you are facing getting your products into the hands of consumers?
Brian Bushell: We are competing with big brands that have been commonplace in our homes since birth with tremendous brand loyalty and large marketing budgets. Everyday is a challenge because we are tiny compared to the other players in the space.
Jeff Ragovin: What are your marketing strategies and how do you get people to change their consumption behaviors?
Brian Bushell: The conversation around single use plastic products penetrates many different industries from plastic straws to grocery bags. As you go about your day people are posting about how they are saving the environment. Instagram as a whole shows the beauty of the product and allows people to feel an emotional connection to the product. I don't know if its one consistent marketing channel as much as it is consistency across all channels.
Jeff Ragovin: Do you think video could be more effective than just images?
Brian Bushell: I think we walk this line between fear and inspiration, and we want to lead people by inspiring people that they could be a part of the solution. There is a lot of content being made everyday about the problem, most of which is fear-invoking, but we want to ensure that any content we put out leverages the power of inspiration rather than fear.
Jeff Ragovin: Do you think that brands will be the driving forces that combat environmental problems or is it the consumers?
Brian Bushell: Luckily we are in a time where things move fast, speed to market has increased, information travels quickly back and forth between brands and consumers. I don’t know if it’s one or the other as much as it is people.
Jeff Ragovin: How important do you think the collaboration is between public and private sectors to help the environment and clean consumption?
Brian Bushell: It’s essential. Some people won’t change so it’s important for the government to set guidelines. Some companies will seek profit at all costs and plastic is so cheap and functional. It has to be a team effort to manifest change. We will win together or we will lose together!
Jeff Ragovin: How are you thinking about micro-influencers standing behind your products?
Brian Bushell: It’s mission critical, everyone's an influencer to the extent that you’re willing to share your life on social media.
Jeff Ragovin: Do you have any advice you would give to a young entrepreneur?
Brian Bushell: Number 1 is listening, entrepreneurs are always telling people how it’s going to be but ultimately you’re going to have to listen to the responses to ensure everyone buys in. Number 2 is that you don’t always have to have all the answers, “I don’t know” is an okay response.
Jeff Ragovin: Thank you for joining the Marketing Mix Podcast.
Please note, the above has been paraphrased for editorial purposes