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14 November 2018

THoMer Kristien: conscious consumer passionate about purpose-driven organizations

If I had to briefly describe myself, I’d say I’m a value-driven marketer and a positive thinker with a strong sense of responsibility. In my daily life, I try to reduce my ecological footprint in incremental steps. I strongly believe that changing something starts with changing your behavior and that changing your behavior starts with small changes to your habits. So instead of turning into vegetarians overnight, my boyfriend and I gradually adapted our eating habits. At the very start, we cooked a few vegetarian dishes a week and ordered meatless courses in restaurants. Those changes eased the full transition to a vegetarian diet. This year we are focused on eating seasonally and reducing our use of plastic.

Marketing and I: it’s a match!

Although I graduated as a business engineer, I was attracted by marketing and its unique role in corporate strategy. Marketers are the link between the company, the consumers and the external world. Hence, we should play a role in the innovation process of a business, because consumer habits, preferences and expectations can drive innovation and optimization. We also manage the information that goes out to consumers. In our position, we’re able to convince them to buy better alternatives and to educate and inspire them to create new habits that are better for themselves, the environment and society.

In my role as a marketer, I draw my energy from having a positive impact and bringing value to consumers. One project that I loved to work on was for a national transportation company that wanted to accelerate the move towards greener mobility. They built a new platform where supply and demand interacted. On the supplier side, companies offered services like Cambio or Blue-bike; on the demand side, leasing companies or large employers could use the platform to create flexible mobility packages. My position involved explaining the platform’s benefits in a simple and clear manner. The objective was to convince companies to use the platform’s services and to change their mobility approach so the businesses themselves, their employees and the environment would benefit.  

How it all started

I haven’t figured out where exactly my sustainable mindset comes from, although I’ve always valued sustainability. I remember being triggered by a visit to Pidpa, a water filtering company, when I was in primary school. They explained that tap water is as clean as bottled water, yet more ecological, which pushed me to ask my parents to stop buying bottled water. My eco-friendly lifestyle really took off when I moved in with my boyfriend and we started purchasing our own products and services. From then onward, I gradually made other consumption decisions. I took my own bags to the grocery store and bought biodegradable fillings for the cat litter - changes which turned into habits. Once I was accustomed, I looked for the next thing I could change in my consumption behavior.

Work and life in sustainable balance

My work and personal life interact with each other. My job has made me more aware of my consumption. As a marketer, you observe first-hand that consumers’ purchases define demand, and demand defines what’s produced and how. That’s an important motivator for me to be a vegetarian. Different roles at various clients also teach me things as a consumer. Especially as a consultant, you learn so much about different sectors, products and services, which you can then apply in your personal life. For example, I once worked on a project on multivitamins and learned we lack vitamin D during winter - which is why I’ve started consuming it. It also works in the other direction: in my personal life, I read and learn about environmental or societal issues, which change my habits as a consumer. I want to apply those learnings in my job and have a positive impact.

Building Marketing for Good

That’s why I’m involved in Marketing for Good at The House of Marketing, a project which groups the initiatives related to corporate sustainability. The Immersion Camp case is one of them: new consultants participate in a week of training and work on a ngo case together. We’ve helped the Red Cross, Oxfam and this year our partner was Too Good To Go. Not every initiative is large scale though. I recently noticed we’re left with an overload of waste after our Friday lunches, which I mentioned to our office assistant. The week after, she organized a waste-free lunch, which tasted just as good as always. Mission accomplished!

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