News & Resources > Press Releases > PR > LeatherNaturally! Advances its Cause

LeatherNaturally! Advances its Cause

Release date: 8/29/2011

After months of open discussions, the LeatherNaturally! Concept is now ready to move to the next stage of activity and is actively gathering funds for a research study into consumer attitudes towards leather.

Given lifestyle changes across international markets and the vital importance of consumption by new consumers in Asian markets, no programme of activities can be cost-effectively put into action based on out-of-date or anecdotal information.  Consumer attitudes and purchase behaviour have changed dramatically over the past two decades as the power of brands and new media have impacted on society.

LeatherNaturally! is now evaluating and funding a comprehensive market research proposal from The Brand Union, a global branding and communications firm; the first stage of research is focused on consumer purchase dynamics across  a variety of markets.  Included in this study will be an examination of levels of awareness, perceptions/attitudes, and buying habits around the use of leather in key categories on consumer products.  The role and value of the use of leather in these products will also be examined, as will current levels of knowledge of leather (origin, tanning, types of hides) and the amount of desire for increased information throughout the purchase cycle of these products.

An important aspect of the research is the insight that it will provide to both LeatherNaturally! and its stakeholders specific to the mindset of newer, younger consumers, especially in markets such as China.  The industry has historically believed that consumers purchase products from brands without significant knowledge of the material.  The objective of the research is to ensure the future  LeatherNaturally! messaging strategy is informed by a better understanding of  from key drivers, key audiences, business strategy, and the overall environment.

The leather industry has not typically sponsored end-consumer market research.  Throughout most of history, leather has been treated as a necessity and with its limited raw material supply, tanners have tended not to worry.  However, history has often shown this optimism to be wrong. 

“Nothing takes the place of leather”

When the US leather industry was struggling in the early part of the 20th century, a study published in the “Harvard Business Review” in 1930 noted that “it is poor merchandising to let the price of leather go up to the point where substitutes come in on any large scale.  The slogan ‘nothing takes the place of leather’ should change to ‘nothing takes the place of leather made from sole leather hides at 16 cents a pound or less’.”  Today, price is still an issue but more important is the position that the industry wants leather to hold.  Does the industry want to make and sell a commodity, or would it prefer to understand consumers better, educate them, and create/align expectations that help the industry achieve its aspirations?

LeatherNaturally! is designed as an “umbrella” approach and it sees itself as reinforcing other industry campaigns - and in no way is it trying to compete with them.  LeatherNaturally! fully supports the promotion of the Genuine Leather Mark from China which plays a vital role in educating the Chinese consumer and consumers in other markets.  By helping to support such activity - and through sharing knowledge and information - the industry should be able to make a much bigger impression on the global consumer than any individual group acting on its own.

At the moment it is not clear whether the funding for LeatherNaturally! will come via support from existing trade bodies or from individual companies, or a mix of both.  ACLE and the weeks immediately after should provide insight into this question. LeatherNaturally! represents tanners and associated companies promoting leather as a high quality sustainable material.