The BBI JU's BioCannDo experience: let’s talk about bio-based products

20 August 2019
The BBI JU's BioCannDo experience: let’s talk about bio-based products

Over the past three years, the BBI JU-funded BioCannDo project focused intensively on communicating bio-based products and the bioeconomy. The project team gained a lot of experience, which it would now like to share with other communicators. Ten key insights are presented in BioCannDo’s recent publication The BioCanndo experience: Let’s talk about bio-based products.

What makes BioCannDo unique is its focus on consumer communication: the project developed the information portal www.AllThings.Bio, which provides a broad range of communication materials, formats and resources. BioCannDo also engaged with other bioeconomy communication projects to share good practices. The project team brought together experts and consumers in workshops and focus groups to develop key communication messages. Last but not least, BioCannDo mapped educational materials and developed new ones to help teachers have easy access to teaching aids on the bioeconomy.

Re-gain consumers trust with transparent communication

More and more consumers are asking for environmentally friendly and sustainable products; it’s no surprise that 'green' advertising claims are gradually increasing. While conventional products are established and accepted by consumers, innovative bio-based products have to be explained and justified. In BioCannDo we opted for a plain language and communication style emphasising the personal benefits for consumers. We stressed the importance of giving unbiased information. Whilst we presented the advantages bio-based products can offer, we also addressed openly their less positive aspects, which will still need to be improved in the future. We are convinced that 'bio-based' itself is not a selling point. Explaining the uses, performance and benefits of bio-based products creates awareness and acceptance among consumers.

The BioCannDo dilemma: finding the right form and angle

Media professionals are constantly looking for new formats to connect with the public. But the recipe for success is yet to be discovered: established formats are very popular but leave a déjà vu feeling. Innovative web communication stands out but it struggles to reach out to large audiences. 

We developed a bouquet of communication content around applications of bio-based products that naturally resonate with consumers: Catering, Clothing, Construction, Gardening, Home and Transport. The same content was re-packaged and presented in different forms (i.e. journalistic article, Q&A, video clip, quiz) according to the channels to be used and their audience.

Engage with consumers, experts and projects

We can achieve more working together. As true as this saying may be, it is sometimes difficult to put into practice. In BioCannDo we wanted to create synergies with other communication projects and initiatives, experts and consumers – not to reinvent the wheel, but to learn from each other’s good practices and join forces.

But how to do that when bioeconomy communicators are spread across Europe and the project’s budget is limited? In BioCannDo, we asked ourselves the following questions: What do we want to achieve with our network? What do others expect from us? What kind of input do we need from consumers and experts and how can we get them involved in our project? We opted for a mix of actions. We offered projects different levels of cooperation, with a combination of online and offline activities. This mix of measures helped us ensure that we do not communicate in isolation but as a community as we held regular exchanges with other bioeconomy communicators. We succeeded in involving consumers and experts in the development of our messages to create joint approaches on how to communicate about the bioeconomy. Sharing experience and knowledge has certainly helped us increase the project’s impact and sustainability.

Bringing the concept of bioeconomy to life

The concept of the bioeconomy is still very abstract, which makes communicating about it a challenge. In BioCannDo, we wanted to address this by enriching our networking and educational activities with practical and engaging examples of how to communicate the bioeconomy. Less theory, more actual practice – that was our guiding principle.

Our teaching materials with hands-on experiments for students have proven to be extremely successful at various events. Ultimately, teaming up with key target groups and getting them involved in the BioCannDo communication and education activities has helped to increase our outreach and impact as a project.

To learn more about all of BioCannDo’s insights download The BioCannDo experience: Let’s talk about bio-based products now.

Text by: Erik Lohse, BioCannDo Project

Source: BE Sustainable Magazine