More than ever, consumers have real concerns about the impact that their actions have on the environment. Spurred by the looming presence of the climate crisis, it’s unsurprising that more and more people are examining the various systems in our society that are not set up to last and trying to find solutions to make them sustainable.
These solutions don’t just take the form of government policies though, new ideas present exciting opportunities for new businesses and a host of new brands have risen up to meet consumers’ demand for sustainability.
In fashion, this has seen the rise of thrift and second-hand brands at the expense of so-called “fast fashion”. In the tourism sector, it’s resulted in new brands catering specifically for eco-friendly and sustainable holidays, and in the food and beverage industry meat-free and vegan alternatives to a vast array of traditional products have created more choices for consumers than ever before.
Too Good To Go is a prime example of a new business and brand that has found a valuable gap in this emergent market. However, its place in the food and beverage industry is unique. Rather than producing its own products, Too Good To Go provides a useful service, linking up restaurants and businesses that have food waste with consumers hungry for discounted meals and ingredients that would otherwise just be thrown in the trash.
Like many other new sustainably-minded brands that have filled gaps in the market, Too Good To Go fuses activism with business, putting its environmental cause at the heart of its brand identity.
In this Brand Deep Dive, we’re going to take a closer look at Too Good To Go’s origins, discover how they successfully built a brand that closely aligns with an environmental cause, and provide three important lessons you can take away from their story.
Waste Not, Want Not: Building a Brand Out Of Trash
Too Good To Go was founded in 2015 by Brian Christensen, Thomas Bjørn Momsen, Stian Olesen, Klaus Bagge Pedersen, and Adam Sigbrand in Copenhagen, Denmark. Created as a solution to the massive problem of food waste across the world, the founders' initial idea was to “focus on the food that became waste at the end of buffets”.
However, they quickly realized that their approach needn’t be so narrow — a whole range of foodservice providers from restaurants and cafes to hotels and bakeries could be included in their new idea.
And the idea was a simple one. One-third of all food produced ends up going to waste. We’re not talking exclusively about fresh produce going moldy on the shelf, but also meals prepped by restaurants, baked goods in bakeries, and breakfast foods from hotels. So many businesses that sell food throw a great deal of it away for a variety of reasons — so, why not connect those consumers concerned about food waste (and interested in discounted prices) with businesses looking to make a little extra revenue from their waste?
Like all new ideas these days, Too Good To Go became an app, one that connected those businesses that signed up with consumers looking to save a perfectly good meal from ending up in the trash. In March 2016, the company saved its first meal — 15 months later, the Too Good To Go app reached one million users, and since then the company has helped to save 129 million meals and counting!
Too Good To Go is now the world’s largest B2C platform aimed at fighting food waste. It operates in 17 countries including the US, UK, Germany, and France — though coverage in each region is usually centered on large cities. Each day it saves 100,000 meals.
But the brand isn’t just focused on expanding its services and earning more revenue — it’s also a vocal proponent of the larger movement against food waste, advocating for policy changes, providing educational resources, and supporting charities like Fare Share in the UK.
As a certified B Corp brand, Too Good To Go is part of a growing number of businesses that are putting profit on an equal footing to other considerations — such as sustainability — so that as a business it is transparent, accountable, and, ultimately, a force for good.
Even a brand with a positive, eco-friendly purpose such as this one has not been without controversy though. In 2021, shortly after the brand’s launch in Philadelphia, an opinion piece from a local news website posited that, by diverting surplus food that might otherwise be sent to charities and selling it instead, the brand posed a threat to those in the city struggling with food insecurity.
In response, some restaurant owners in the city have argued that Too Good To Go allows them to offload incredibly small quantities of food that charities and community support groups do not have the infrastructure to collect.
Too Good To Go has successfully found a valuable niche that ultimately benefits both the businesses it works with and offers useful services to its customers. But what can we learn from its story and the way it has built its brand?
What Can You Learn From Too Good To Go?
1. Enfuse Your Brand With Purpose
While many brands that have sprung up to meet the demands of sustainably-minded consumers have fused their cause and purpose into their brand identity, we shouldn’t assume this is the only option.
Indeed, Impossible Foods is a great example of one such brand that has chosen the alternative option of putting factors other than environmentalism at the heart of its messaging. So, while Too Good To Go could have built a brand identity around offering bargains to consumers and extra revenue to businesses, the team behind its brand consciously chose to lead with messages relating to the wider food-waste movement.
Even if Too Good To Go was a company driven solely by profit — its certified B Corp status proves otherwise — this would be a wise decision. With around 70% of consumers eager to improve their environmental impact in 2022, consumers are hungry for solutions that can fit into their existing routines and buying habits that allow them to make these positive changes.
So, Too Good To Go’s heavy reliance on its purpose-driven plans and environmental goals is something that is likely to resonate with a large portion of consumers.
This is something that is present across the brand’s messaging. On Too Good To Go’s homepage, users are greeted with a bold opening statement — “Ready to fight food waste?” — while many of the website’s pages are devoted to facts and figures about the scale of food waste and what can be done to combat it.
The brand’s social media accounts also prioritize messages relating to the wider food waste cause rather than their core product offering. Its Instagram account, for example, is rich with tips and tricks that consumers can employ to cut their own food waste with much fewer posts about its core service.
The Takeaway: Attaching your brand to something much bigger than your core product or services like a social movement or political cause can be a great way of capturing its energy and enthusiasm to help grow your business — while also making a positive impact on the world.
But be warned, you can’t fake it! Case in point, Pepsi, which tried to capitalize on increased political engagement following the election of Donald Trump in 2016.
Its “Live For Now” campaign was widely criticized for attempting to capitalize on movements like Black Lives Matter without actively contributing or participating in them. The ad was pulled shortly after its release.
So, if you want to infuse your brand with purpose, make sure it’s sincere and back up your campaigns with real actions to avoid accusations of profiteering.
2. Embrace Your Offering’s Shortcomings
No brand is perfect. But ultimately, those imperfections might just be what sets your brand apart from the competition. In some cases, there are great opportunities to embrace the shortcomings of your offering and turn it into something that makes your brand stand out.
In the case of Too Good To Go, the fact that the food on offer is not always consistently available could have been something that consumers saw as a major drawback.
With no guarantees as to the types of food products that will be leftover, every time a consumer makes an order with a restaurant or bakery through the Too Good To Go app, they’re rolling the dice. But Too Good To Go embraced this randomness and made it a core part of their offering — their “magic bags” which can include an assortment of leftover food items are not dissimilar to the phenomena of “mystery boxes” and have been embraced by consumers who love surprises.
By embracing the unpredictability of its offering, Too Good To Go has added an extra element to its brand experience — which is perfectly summed up in this review from Wired:
“that element of surprise is what makes it so exciting and fun. Sometimes you strike gold with an amazing value—like $3 for 10 bagels, many of which are still in my freezer waiting to be toasted up for breakfast.”
The Takeaway: You’ve probably heard the saying “it’s not a bug, it’s a feature” — but in some cases, this can actually be true! Too Good To Go wouldn’t be the first brand to shift the perspective on an element of its offering that might be construed as a weakness.
Buckley’s cough syrup has the famous tagline “it tastes awful. And it works”, while Czech automobile brand Skoda embraced the fact that it had terrible brand associations with many consumers.
Don’t always assume that consumers will balk at your brand’s shortcomings, instead try to find a way to incorporate them into your brand’s identity and make them part of your USP.
3. Keep Things Simple
The basic idea behind Too Good To Go’s service is a simple one — and this simplicity is something that has been carried over into the brand’s identity and its core service. Everything from the uncomplicated three-color logo to the app’s straightforward layout has been designed to create as little resistance to signing up and getting involved as possible.
This simplicity also helps keep the brand’s environmental cause visible — indeed, the fight to end food-waste acts as a through-line that gracefully connects all the brand’s messaging, its look and feel, and its core offering. This uncomplicated design has certainly been a factor in the rapid growth of Too Good To Go, which has been able to convince millions of people to sign up, download the app, and get involved.
The Takeaway: When it comes to building a brand and speaking to consumers, less is more. By keeping things simple in your brand’s messaging, you leave room for a single message to resonate time and time again.
If your brand is a new player in an emergent market, the need to keep things straightforward becomes even more important. Don’t alienate your target audience with different messaging and selling points or convoluted ways to sign up and get involved. Find a simple message that communicates who you are and what you do and stick with that.
Too Good To Go represents an increasingly common approach to business where the founding principles and goals are not overwhelmingly focused on profit. The growth of activist brands is moving in step with consumers’ concerns over a myriad of environmental and social issues — and, in turn, all brands are beginning to feel increasing pressure to demonstrate how they’re contributing to positive change.
Just consider environmental activist brand Patagonia or second-hand electronics platform Refurbed — there are plenty of ways that modern brands are adhering to their values.
Whether you’re an established brand or a new one with an environmental mission at the heart of your business, with Latana’s brand monitoring software you can track how consumers perceive your brand and identify the gaps in your messaging that might be leading to low awareness or a build-up of negative associations.