SUMANI TRENDSTER BLOG: GUNAS

Background

GUNAS is a luxury vegan lifestyle brand founded by award winning designer Sugandh Agrawal. Her designs have been featured in VOGUE, Harper’s Bazaar, and Forbes, and are a favorite of vegan celebrity stylists and influencers. Named as the best independent handbag brand in 2018 by MACY’s, GUNAS handbags are sold in over 40 countries worldwide through a strong direct to consumer business in addition to numerous specialty boutiques. 

Online sales have been increasing and GUNAS approached our team to highlight the brand’s sustainability efforts by conducting a comparative product life cycle assessment (LCA) and building a marketing strategy around these results. 

Our Approach

To conduct the LCA, our team selected the Cottontail Bag, GUNAS’s hero product to act as the functional unit. Because some of the data on various components of the bag was unavailable, we pivoted to study the main material of the bag, “Water based” Polyurethane (PU) and compare its impact to that of conventional cow hide leather. 

In building the marketing plan, we wanted to first understand the vegan handbag market, GUNAS’s competitors, and how consumers perceived vegan leather. We built primary research by conducting a survey on the shopping habits of targeted handbag customers, asking them specifically their understanding of vegan leather and sustainability in handbags. We used our primary and secondary research, along with results of our comparative LCA to build our comprehensive and detailed marketing plan.

Final Product

Our LCA results showed that the production of vegan water-based PU used in the GUNAS Cottontail bag produces 84% LESS CO2e emissions than the production of traditional cow leather. Our marketing plan built on these favorable results by providing GUNAS with tools to message its commitment to sustainability while growing its bottom line in the process. The final results of the LCA and the marketing plan included a list of eco-conscious micro-influencers with whom to connect along with visuals to match the roll out of GUNAS’s LCA results and the expected financial returns to this new influencer strategy. 

Concluding Thoughts

Our team learned a great deal through the execution of this project, not only about life cycle assessment and the challenges in transparency within the supply chain, but also about client expectations and project management. The LCA deliverables needed to be changed midway through the process, and the team was tasked with communicating the reasons for that change tactfully. 

We will take this consulting experience with us into our future endeavours and thank GUNAS for allowing us the opportunity to work on this amazing project, and for the support from Net Impact! 

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