When we said that many new younger consumers did not understand leather, many countries laughed at us and said leather did not have a problem. Perhaps there was a small problem in China, but Europe and Latin America fully understand the origins of leather.

Yet, since then, we have seen unpublished research in Germany reveal that most 12-18 year olds do not know that leather comes from cows, and research published in the UK state that 30% of children believe that cheese comes from plants, and nearly 20% think that fish-fingers are made of chicken. After the UK survey, the organiser was quoted saying:

“Through this survey, one in five (21%) primary school children and 18% of secondary school pupils, told us that they have never visited a farm. This may go part way to explaining why over a third (34%) of 5-8 year-olds and 17% of 8-11 year-olds believe that pasta comes from animals.”

So when we see the synthetics industry making aggressive use of marketing, including deliberately misleading terminology, we should not be surprised. Just as we are not surprised that companies in Europe making materials from vegetable or plant origins are adding the word “leather” to their description.

With urbanisation accelerating all round the world, the trend in the number of children who will not see a cow until well into their teens is set to continue. We are seeing a cultural disconnection from the land as more and more commodity food products are being shipped long distances to city dwellers.

When we began LeatherNaturally! Five years ago, doubters told us that leather did not have an image problem and that promoting it was the wrong route; it could only raise prices. The huge rise in raw materials and the euphoria from the Chinese luxury market was used to prove the view that promoting leather was not the right policy.

With attacks on leather accelerating on all fronts and the market share of leather declining, even with raw prices dropping, the importance of whole hearted marketing and proactive promotion is more important than ever. Things are not going to get better on their own, we need to act.

 Listen to the podcast here: Things_are_not_going_to_get_better.mp3

Mike Redwood


Follow Mike Redwood on twitter: @michaelredwood

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