On 2-04

21 September 2020

Switzerland-based sneaker brand On announced The Cylon: a fully recyclable pair of running shoes that can only be purchased via a monthly subscription. On’s goal is to achieve total circularity, and create new sneakers from the pairs customers send back. The USD 29.99 sneaker subscription, which lets customers swap out their current shoes for new ones as often as they’d like, ensures On will receive enough sneaker returns to make circularity feasible. The Cylon is made from castor beans (not petroleum-based plastics, like many shoes) and can be completely recycled. On will debut the sneaker and the subscription plan in fall 2021. 

Consumers’ unending desire to, well, consume is often at odds with their conscience; that is, the uncomfortable knowledge of how their purchases will negatively impact the world. Yet On may have cracked the code. The running shoe brand’s subscription will grant (and grant, and grant) their customers the thrill of getting that fresh pair of sneaks, while the circularity scheme will ensure they’re not actually over-consuming while eliminating any eco-guilt they may have. 

On isn’t alone here. Other brands are also implementing business models – particularly those contributing to the sharing economy – that balance consumers’ appetites for new everything with our collective sustainability concerns. Muji in Japan is offering a COVID-relevant home office furniture subscription, Levi’s and Ganni in Denmark created a capsule collection of clothes consumers can rent (but not buy!) to access, while subscription box brand Litterbox lets cat owners spoil their pets each month – but only with eco-friendly, ‘farm-to-feline’ items

The Cyclon subscription and On’s commitment to 100% circularity, however, are especially ambitious. What shoot-for-the-stars, purpose-driven goal would your team be thrilled to achieve as a brand? How might you tweak your operations to pursue that goal while, at the same time, continuing to engage and excite your customer base?

Stay healthy,

The TrendWatching content team