Nothing Else - Research

Sustainable Consumption: The birth of an innovative food brand within a university community

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This presentation is focused on a new food brand that will help consumers within a University community make better choices in response to a growing demand for a more sustainable living (Grant 2007). In a world of seismic economic, environmental and social change the need for a more sustainable way of behaving is rapidly moving into the fast lane of survival priorities (Porritt 2006). The global collapse of economic growth over the last 12 months and its effect on the natural environment has primarily been the result of a dependence on outmoded models of consumption (Hamilton 2005; James 2006). Using the same techniques developed by the ‘persuasion industries’ that are arguably responsible for the problem of unsustainable consumption we can offer a constructive solution to more sustainable consumption (Pollan 2008).

Intro and Purpose

AUT has a combined community population of 30,000 students and staff. It provides an ideal environment to trial a new brand of snack foods and water which will encourage smart eating for smart thinkers. The brand’s focus is on allowing customers to see upfront exactly what they are eating by making ingredients the hero. ‘Nothing Else’ offers food that uses natural ingredients only. No preservatives, synthetic additives or colouring, e-numbers or unsustainably sourced ingredients. The nutritional standards have been screened by Dr Elaine Rush, a professor of nutrition from the AUT School of Sports and Recreation. The launch will start with simple snack offerings and an artesian water that are priced competitively to encourage students to ‘snack’ on food that will nourish their body and brains around lecture and exam time. Profits from sales will be reinvested to develop more sophisticated products that fit the brand values for further consumption. The model will then be ‘exported’ to other University campuses in New Zealand and offshore. The brand will eventually be marketed in mainstream outlets as a University seeded initiative.


The initiative springs from a research paper written for an MPhil in sustainable consumption. The methodology for this paper uses Multimodal Discourse Analysis. The advantage of this methodology from a marketing perspective is that it includes analysis of textual and visual semiotics which is part of branding and pack design as well as an understanding of multimodal communication and consumer behaviour. The methodology also includes a brief history of post-World War Two consumption and its evolution to the present day.


The Nothing Else brand was launched on Monday September 21, 2009. The brand has had strong sales of water and consistent sales of snacks. After the first six weeks the snack price has been reduced from $5 - $4 per bag and plans are being made to add a smaller $2 bag option for launch in 2010. AUT’s business partners Brand Support are very impressed with the sales results and have recently signed a five year contract to develop the brand both in range and distribution outside of AUT. Plans to export the brand to other universities and the wider public will be developed in 2010.


Consumers of food in markets globally are much more aware of issues that support sustainable behaviour. In a world overloaded with brand message confusion with respect to information on ingredients and nutrition there is an opportunity to create a brand of food and beverages that assists consumers to navigate effectively towards food made of ingredients that are familiar and natural. Nothing Else is exactly what it says. It offers a simple reference for time poor customers who simply want to know what it is that’s in the product (as opposed to what’s not in it). It has strict nutritional standards that conform to natural ingredients only. The packaging design allows consumers to instantly decide for themselves whether they will purchase the product by declaring the contents upfront.