Interview with Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition: "...the marketing of sufficiency".

In this podcast, Jonathan Loriaux talks to Jean-Marie Perbost, co-founder of "La Belle Transition", a company specializing in supporting organizations in transition. They discuss the transformation of the marketing sector and its perception over the years. La Belle Transition is also the organization that helped Badsender to writing the company's raison d'être.

Jean-Marie explains that the ubiquitous nature of marketing, particularly in social media, has led to marketing fatigue. He also discusses "greenwashing" and how marketing sometimes embellishes or exaggerates the truth to promote the sale of products or services. In addition, he discusses the importance of strategic marketing versus operational marketing, and stresses the crucial role of top management in initiating and driving significant change within large companies, particularly in terms of the ecological transition.

"[...] the marketing of sufficiency. At some point, how do we bring joy? How do you have the satisfaction of saying, 'I have enough'?

Visit the La Belle Transition website: https://www.labelletransition.fr/ and the Mi.lieu website https://www.le-milieu.fr/

List of references cited during the podcast: Everide, Veja

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Text transcript of the podcast recorded with Jean-Marie from La Belle Transition

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
Hello Jean-Marie.

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
Hello Jonathan.

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
I'm really glad you're here today. There are several reasons why it was important for me to invite you on this podcast. On the one hand, because with Roxanne, you helped Badsender to reflect on the company's raison d'être, and on the other, because you're an economist and it's interesting to have this kind of vision on the place that marketing can, or should, have in a company in transition. So, to begin with, could you introduce yourself, tell us where you're from and what you do during the day?

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
My name is Jean-Marie Perbost, and I'm 45 years old. Today, I'm the co-founder of La Belle Transition, a company that supports organizations in their desire for transition, in their transition methods, and in their training needs to prepare for all this. These organizations can be companies or public bodies. We also welcome students from different backgrounds to share their training paths. I came to this profession after a round-the-world trip. It's a bit of a cliché, the round-the-world trip that takes you off course. Nevertheless, taking a year or so off at some point in your life or career does you good. It's important to take a step back and look at things from a different angle. I say "differently" because Roxane and I actually went to see other realities, other ways of looking at things. Previously, I'd gone to business school, so during my higher education I'd been bottle-fed on marketing, which at the time, at the end of the 90s, was still very classical, and probably a little too classical for me. I chose neither marketing nor finance. I had chosen an option called economics at the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Paris. And I soon did a tour in consulting firms. I didn't really like the big firms. So I decided instead to set up my own companies, which I did in different fields. The first was in music production. Then I did some in fine wines and more on the online side. And then it was more of a press adventure, with a strong focus on explaining things. In journalism school, it was forbidden to put a question mark in headlines. We only put question marks in the headlines and tried to explain things using a whole range of other resources like data visualization, statistics... Things that we now see a lot more of in newspapers. And fortunately for readers, listeners and viewers, there's the care to explain. And since Le Monde is becoming a bit complicated, I think that's a good thing. At the same time, for 19 years I taught economics at the HEC business school. I saw the new questions being asked in macroeconomics, which were then applied to microeconomics. I also saw the profile of students change, as well as the profile of certain companies. And all that spread over almost 20 years. It's really changed a lot, in any case much more than the 20 and 20 years that preceded it.

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
What has changed in terms of student profiles?

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
Regarding student profiles, in 2000, when I was training them for the school orals, I did a test when I had all the students in the amphitheater, i.e. around 120, and I asked them "Who wants to do marketing?" About 40 %s in the amphitheater raised their hands. Then "Who wants to do finance?" There were 40 % of the amphitheater who raised their hands and about 10 % who weren't sure or who were asleep, who didn't answer. But in any case, the world of business schools, for those who were going to enter, was marketing or finance. That's how it was. And in 2018, when I asked the question for the last time "Who wants to do marketing?" I got eight hands up out of 120, "Who wants to do finance? Who wants to do finance?" Again, eight hands. So I really thought they were asleep. I asked the question again, and they said "no, no, we don't want to do that."

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
What do they want to do about it?

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
So that's a generation that, in my opinion, was built on what they didn't want to do. So I don't know how they built themselves up in prep school, because they weren't yet in school. I don't know how they had built up a certain idea of marketing, a certain idea of finance, differently from their predecessors. I don't know whether the digital education they received, which we clearly didn't have a hand in, played any part in this. And it's true that these majors aren't as reigning as they used to be. Because the start-up culture, the new professions and the desire to create a company are much stronger, but they don't necessarily manifest themselves straight out of school, because of a lack of money, a lack of network, a lack of experience and sometimes a lack of interpersonal skills. But in any case, the marketing and finance part of the business had incredibly diminished, and this is clearly seen in the big marketing companies, not the ones that make the most, but the ones that used to recruit the most from these business schools. They're having trouble recruiting. Today, people say Total is having trouble recruiting. In reality, it's not that easy for L'Oréal or the consumer goods sector either, although they don't say so, but we know perfectly well.

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
We'll come back to these questions in a few moments. You mentioned the beautiful transition. There's also another activity called Le Mi.lieu.

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
Yes, with pleasure. So, La Belle Transition is in the Aude region, near Carcassonne, between Toulouse and Montpellier. We've "reclaimed" the use of a site that belongs to Roxane's family, a 16th-century château that has been involved in viticulture and wine-making for a very long time. And it has become a reception venue whose main economic activity is, to put it briefly, weddings, mainly in the summer. And we felt there was no need to create new venues. Part of the transition is to make the best use of what already exists. So we tried to give it an economic life on weekdays and throughout the rest of the year. And that's where we prepare our trainingsthat we welcome them in part. So that's the business part, the Belle Transition. And then, on the other hand, we said to ourselves, this place is under-used again, even if there are two companies running it, it could still be useful in the area. And so, to keep things separate because they have two different vocations, we created an association called Le Mi.Lieu. Well, it's called des milieux vivants, and Le Mi.Lieu is where it all happens. So why Le Mi.Lieu? Because, as I said earlier, we're in the middle between Toulouse and Montpellier, and also because we're in the middle of vineyards. And because living environments are something that lead us to think a little differently. It's not just nature as a landscape, not just the environment as the health of the soil, the fauna and the flora, but it's a much larger whole in which humans have their place, in which there's a history that can be traced back to the practice of hunting, that can be traced back to a whole history of the environment that we have to come to terms with. And this allows us to grasp the realities with all their physical, human and cultural complexities. We host conferences. This afternoon, we'll be giving a talk on the new uses of mushrooms in construction and waste management, with a friend of ours from London, Marc Violeau. But we also hosted an outdoor egg hunt for village children not long ago...

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender

So, to get to the heart of the matter of this podcast, which is "Is it possible to combine sobriety and marketing ? Could you give us a more or less brief definition of what marketing means to you?

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition

A definition? In any case, the fact that there are so many definitions of marketing shows that there's already a wolf. In other words, you've got the four P's, the seven P's... each time we try to add a whole bunch of things. The definitions we used to give in school, and still do, essentially work by aggregating lots of things, which shows that marketing has never really found its full meaning in business. In other words, it's a puzzle where you put a bit of strategy, a bit of advertising, a bit of marketing, and then once digital arrives, a bit of digital strategy. It's a bit of a messy function, but that doesn't mean it's useless, it just means it's still struggling to find its place. Some Quebecers call it "la mercatique", which is, shall we say, the science of marketing. And I'd say it's a mixture of merchandising and bargaining. In other words, the merchandizing part involves transforming values that have nothing to do with products into products or services. Then there's the merchandising part.

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
And so, it's true that it's a bit of a catch-all word, and that sometimes it's valued and for others, it's an abhorrence of marketing. And what is it that makes it so difficult to define what it is and what it does? Or should we have invented new terminologies? Marion and I have already discussed the fact that there is a big misunderstanding and a big mix between what is strategic marketing, and rather what you mentioned in the first place, i.e. trying to find my market, the right price positioning, possibly sets of values that could try to stick to my brand. And then, operational marketing, that's how put this strategy into practice and how do you reach consumers and potential consumers in the field? Coming back, in fact, to what you were saying about your students, 20 years ago it was perhaps a bit of a dream to work in marketing. Today, it's not necessarily the part that excites most people, and can even be something seen as extremely negative. Yet we all need marketing to some extent. And if I take the village baker, the mere fact that he has a sign on his point of sale is already marketing. So do you think it's still a necessary function? How should it evolve?

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
It's a function, as you say, that's necessary as long as we ask ourselves the right questions. Is the village baker just about communication? Is it information? If he just puts up a sign saying "There's a bakery", that's pure information. And that's where marketing, in trying to become a "science" (I use the word science in quotation marks), to establish methods, has gone further and further away from information and further and further away from communication to arrive at a whole bunch of... well, in the worst case scenario, manipulations or lies. In transition, we'll call this greenwashing. But, in fact, we could do freedom washing, we could do anything we want washing. It's an art of washering, whereas a whole host of other operational actions are very useful for products and services. Yes, a bakery is good that people know it's there. Now, if the bakery starts saying "With my bread, you'll find a woman faster", that's when it becomes a problem. But except that, in fact, it's the very history of car marketing, at least for years. So that's why it's very different from what we do today. Today, in my opinion, marketing is faced with two difficulties as a result of social networks. The first is that everything is marketing. An Instagram account incorporates the marketing of one's own life, since you obviously take photos where you are highlighted either by aesthetics or by the situation. And so, in fact, from the moment people market themselves all the time, there's marketing fatigue. The second thing is that, as a result, there's a natural knowledge of marketing. What you do for yourself when you say to yourself "That's it, I took the photo right at the edge of the pool where there was the right ray of sunshine, and what's more, I used the right filters". Of course, we have an internal knowledge of all this, which means that we can decipher the way products are manipulated, and so basically, between the fact that we do a lot ourselves and the fact that we've understood how brands do it, there may be a loss of confidence in this set of techniques. Now, in fact, everyone's doing marketing, which wasn't the case before.

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
This means there may be a loss of reference points on what is reality. The Instagram example is very evocative, because when you post photos on Instagram, whether as an individual or as an influencer, you only post what you value. What we pass off as our normal life may just be a few special moments. And, in fact, we gradually distort the vision that all citizens and consumers might have. It's always interesting to distinguish between people who are citizens and those who are consumers. And in the world of marketing, everyone is a consumer. It's something that disturbs me quite regularly. As a result, our vision of what the world is and what it should really be becomes progressively truncated.

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
It's really interesting to think about. Either you're lost and people are confused, or on the contrary, they're very lucid. And in fact, do you want your own job to become a bit of a "little liar" all the time? I don't know, maybe it's tiring. There are brands that manage it very well in terms of brand prestige. In fact, people don't mind saying "I'm in marketing at Vuitton". What pleases the ego is to say that you work for Vuitton, and therefore for LVMH. In marketing, maybe it's because we were better at certain things than at numbers, and we didn't go into finance. So there's a difference between luxury, in other words, the intrinsic appeal of the company as a brand and itself. The company almost becomes the name of the company, its prestige, and not the name of the products. (Precisely, that's what's a little different.) The company, without even mentioning its products, suggests prestige. So going to work in marketing at Vuitton continues to attract people for these reasons. But unfortunately, that's only a small part of the marketing workforce in France, and for many others, if the magic of luxury or the magic of certain big names doesn't work, we fall into that side that people are perhaps more familiar with, which is to say, "How am I actually going to scrape up sales?" And marketing hardly ever uses the word commercial. Because they don't like it, because the word commercial still conveys the person doing the vrp or the over-promotion. But in fact, the marketing person can spend an incredible amount of time doing the commercial, i.e. taking the action to really sell very, very close to the sale. In the end, whether it's through promotion, canvassing or any of the other techniques they're used to using.

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
I'm killing my plot here, but it doesn't matter, because it brings me to a subject that's on my mind every day. It's about the impact marketers have on the way the world is represented. What modernity is, what progress is, what success is. And I'm convinced that marketing, to return to the subject of ecological transition, has a big responsibility in the fact that today, to show your success, you need to have a big car, you need to travel far, because if you travel close by, you won't be able to show it on Instagram to your friends and so you won't show that your success is full and complete. And also, on questions of modernity, if you do such and such an action, if you have such and such a way of consuming, that's not modern, that's not progress, so it's not necessarily valued. I have the impression that advertising, all the marketing approaches we have, influence society as a whole towards a certain type of consumption. And so, to go back to my storyline, in the end, what is it? the marketer's responsibility in the transitionIsn't it precisely to bring in what we call "new narratives" and try to bend this vision of the world a little that marketing can provide?

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
So, obviously, he has a responsibility, but as do many other people in the company. The problem is that responsibility for all this is very much dissolved. That is to say, obviously, there isn't one person in the position of giga-marketer or marketer of a super-big company or a must-have product, who can influence our imaginations. Now, the sum of all this, the sum in volume and the sum in time has obviously shaped our imaginations. And so there's a logical disempowerment which is to say, "It's not my ads that have shaped the global culture of what success is." And it's clear that it's not the ads of this person or that product. Now, the sum of all that adds up to something different from the original idea. And this disempowering aspect makes the problem harder to solve. After all, I don't want to blame marketing more than other functions. Honestly, at the moment, if we're talking about the world of transition, people and artists haven't done much more than marketers, unfortunately. And yet, we could pit them against each other and say that artists aren't just in the market business; they take their time, they stand back, they're sheltered from the ups and downs of the economy. But if you look at the great works of fiction in literature, cinema and painting that deal with the transition, and art also plays a part in shaping the imagination, it's not great either. So, as a group, nobody can do it. Marketers no more than anyone else. Now, the others don't do much, but the marketers, for their part, are very active in terms of the quantity of images produced. In other words, the number of daily solicitations we receive, which stems from what you so rightly said, i.e. "This is the idea of success, this is the idea of consumption that we must have", ends up posing a problem in terms of numbers. Marketing often supports products that aren't great. The better a product or service, the less it needs problematic marketing. When you have a product or service that provides the solution, you don't need to add a lot to sell it. And so, in fact, we can also suspect that marketing puts a lot of effort into bad or average, average-plus products, which try to pass themselves off as better than they are, using a whole range of arguments. Should we defend these average products and services at all costs? I don't know, I'm not convinced.

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
As a result, I'm back on track with the storyline I'd prepared. Because with La Belle Transition, you meet and work with companies that are mainly traditional. Can you tell us why they come to you? And to come back to other elements, is it realistic for large traditional structures (and you don't only support large structures, by the way) to be able to really make their revolution and profoundly transform themselves?

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
So why do they come to us? There are several cases. There are cases of deep conviction, even in very large companies, whose business model has been very traditional until now. Often, this is because one person or a group of people in the company has decided to tackle this issue, and has the power and connections within the company's power relations to start training internally. It may be the boss, it may be a few people at Comex.

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
Is it often key people in relatively high positions in society who can get things moving, or can it sometimes come from the bottom up too?

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Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
For the time being, with large structures, if the top doesn't move, it's not possible. Because the top management has the shareholders next door or behind them. They have cumbersome decision-making processes. If things don't move from the top (and I'm talking about companies like banks, insurance companies, things as big as that), you need a particular, personal will. What happens next and why they come to us, but it all adds up, is that there's legislation coming in, or that has come in, that's making them move. There are regulations in the banking sector, there are a whole host of new obligations coming from either Europe or France. And they're saying, "Oh yes, we need to educate our managers and employees a bit, because if we don't, they'll just take it as a constraint. It would be better if they knew why we're asking them to make all these new efforts. And then there are other reasons, which again are cumulative in relation to what we said at the start of this podcast. It's a difficulty in recruiting for some, from the moment when young people or certain young people have a concern, we could say ecological, environmental, climatic, in any case a concern for transition, which means that they look carefully at the practices of their employers, how their employer stands on transition? Inevitably, you have to have something to tell them. And sometimes it's HR who comes along and says, "It would be good if we could start building a discourse".

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
As a result, we're back on track with marketing, because we're working on our employer brand to attract talent.

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
That's where we work on employer branding. But here too, we need to work on more than just the brand. If we work on the brand without the strategy, young graduates see this perfectly clearly today. Some would like to work on the brand alone. But they are quickly called to order by the recruitment market. And then there's the fear that motivates them to come. All in all, we can sense that a huge shift is taking place. We're caught up in our day-to-day issues: market issues, marketing issues, financial issues. But we also feel that we probably haven't devoted enough time to it, given the societal and market importance it's taking on. But did we turn the corner early enough? And how do we get back on the wagon without derailing ourselves?

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
Today, most of the companies we've met in this podcast tend to call themselves eco-responsible, and have a real desire to influence and have an impact on the transition, be it ecological or social. As a result, their model tends to be one of growth, in which, through the growth of these structures, we're gradually taking economic activity away from traditional players who don't necessarily have the right practices. And through our growth, we will gradually impose a more virtuous economic model. What I'm hearing is that some people are beginning to detect a certain threat coming from this direction, knowing that these companies are having a bit of trouble making a living and really developing, it's still not that simple for them. They're asking themselves questions and saying, "Is it really the players who are setting up on already virtuous foundations that scare them? Or is it the fact that one of their competitors is moving a little faster in the transition than they are, and catching them off guard?

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
We're not far from questions about growth here, and that's really important. In fact, as I see it, there are two very different cases. It's good to nibble market share away from less virtuous companies, and even from the world of the past. In other words, we need to offer today's products that meet the Paris objectives. This means substituting the purchase of one product for a more virtuous one. So it's all very well for there to be growth, this replacement growth. The problem is that, if we look at the world's biggest emitters, it's virtually all sectors that are now closed. In other words, through successive concentrations or investment volumes, they have become oligopolies, duopolies and, in any case, sectors that cannot be attacked. So go and say "I've got a more virtuous clothing brand, so buy my responsibly-made shirt rather than one made from disgusting materials, in disgusting social conditions". Well, that's easier. I'm not saying it's easy. Your previous podcasts remind us that it's a struggle for entrepreneurs who set up these projects, but who can manage it. On the other hand, today, if we take the most polluting sectors, we're not going to set up an alternative to Total. Even the most hardened ecologists put a little petrol in their tanks. So today, hardly anyone has the capacity to replace Total, hardly anyone has the capacity to make steel in place of Arcelor-Mittal. The cattle meat market is held at 80 % by four companies worldwide. So that's where it gets rather complicated, because the markets are really very different. These are markets that have almost become rents, or markets that are almost no longer competitive. In this case, you can't get in either by marketing or by hard-nosed entrepreneurship. So you have to do both.

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
And finally, because we're also back on the subject of orders of magnitude, which is "yes, it's all very well to buy organic cotton jeans made in Portugal", but in the end, it's not necessarily that which counts most in your personal carbon footprint. But, on the other hand (we're straying from the podcast's theme), if I take shipping, which is one of those ultra-closed sectors that's purely be to be and weighs heavily. Tomorrow, it's obvious that a small structure with a sailboat isn't going to replace anything. So what hope is there of really getting these large structures to move?

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
There are many hopes. There's the hope of legislation or societal pressure, that they'll be forced to stop making certain investments, that they'll change the way they prepare for the future. That's important. One emblematic example is Total's Eacop project in Uganda, which should really be stopped. It's a place, a magnificent natural park, which Roxanne and I visited on our world tour. And it's an aberration from every point of view. We have to force them to prepare for the future in a different way. Force them to direct their research efforts. All the millions Total is spending on laziness to dig a well in Uganda. These millions, or rather these billions, are not used to prepare other types of fuel or other types of mobility. Banks are a big part of the heart of the matter. Banks have a colossal power to redirect their money, not just investment banks. People who can afford it entrust their money to them for investment purposes, but also to support their customers, who are the real businesses of our daily lives. Because all businesses, SMEs and larger ETIs, have a bank. And a bank that finances the right investment in the transition at the right rate will speed things up. And then, quite clearly, there are companies that have to fall. Quite simply, today, if tomorrow or next week, Total closes and its products shut down, it's chaos. Society is in chaos. While there are other products, honestly, we don't give a damn. Some products, if someone says to you tomorrow, "This Chinese plastic crap that's useless and whose plastic will last 1000 years, that burned oil to make a societal benefit, is approaching zero, if tomorrow it closes, it's no big deal at all." And that's the first thing to go. In other words, I'm in favor, if you like, in the relatively short term, of marketing authorizations. In the same way as we do for health issues, for medicines, or even in the food industry for certain types of products, I would be in favor of the idea that, in terms of carbon, but not only in terms of carbon, biodiversity and the quantity of plastic, we could say to ourselves that a product will only come onto the market if we authorize it on the basis of its usefulness, or at least on the basis of the balance between its usefulness and its negative externalities, whether direct or indirect.

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
It's difficult to go back to the subject of marketing, but I'm going to make an attempt anyway, because it's true that most of the brands we've met so far are brands that offer finished products to consumers and citizens. So it's easy to understand that, for them, modifying consumption at the margin means making replacements. Rather than buying product A, which isn't virtuous, I'll buy product B, which is at least a little better than the first. After that, if we come back to more structuring issues - and Total systematically comes back to this in these discussions (it's quite amazing, in France, we're hard pressed to find other examples, there are plenty of others, but this one comes up all the time) - we can effectively force Total to move, and it's above all the political powers that will be able to impose new standards and redirect investments towards what will really enable the transition to take place. However, Total is also strong because, in the collective imagination, having a car is still essential for most people like you and me, living in the countryside. And today, we wouldn't be able to do without a car on an almost daily basis, or at least with a lot of difficulty to do relatively simple things. So here we come back to political power on the one hand, and collective investment on the other. But there's also a question of image and new perceptions, of what is modern and what is freedom. If we impose standards, we're going to have an uproar because the collective imagination isn't yet ready to accept them. And so, to conclude my presentation, I'd just like to say that a lot of standards have been introduced in advertising over the last twelve months, particularly in the automotive sector, and that we can no longer talk about carbon neutrality without providing proof of this neutrality from every point of view. But I have the impression that this adds to the greenwashing. If you take PSA, which is called Stelantis, it's one of the biggest lobbies for pushing back the date on which internal combustion engines are to be phased out, but all they do is advertise their electric cars, because they're basically obliged to do so. But the legislation that's supposed to move us towards the transition is actually enabling them to do a better job of greenwashing.

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
In the specific case of Stelantis, I believe that Tavarez doesn't actually believe in electric cars. In other words, he thinks it's a political choice that's an industrial mistake. He's said so. He doesn't do a lot of interviews, but he said it. And that's why I think that today, he's doing what he's been asked to do with electric cars. But he believes that the environmental solution does not lie in electric cars. And where he's not necessarily right, is that it doesn't really matter today whether it's electric or not, it's secondary. There's a lot of debate about battery recycling and so on, but the real issue is weight. Compared to carbon footprint When I joined Peugeot as an engineer, we were producing cars weighing less than 800 kilos. Today, I'm asked to make electric cars weighing a ton-two or a ton-three. That's where the problem comes from. When he says "they're asking me", you could say "but nobody's asking you, you're the CEO of Steelantis." Even he goes along with market trends and political demands. So it's quite complex.

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
What I'm getting at is that, ultimately, the problem is individual modes of transport. Yes, that's where the image and the design We need to change our perception of what is positive, modern and so on. Where I live, some directions are impassable by public transport. On the one hand, this may be because public transport in the countryside is little used when it does exist, and because the public authorities then say to themselves "if we develop others, there's no point, nobody's going to use them anyway". Because overall, the image we have of public transport isn't particularly positive.

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
Yes, there are market signals that are a little different. There's what you say. I see a bus going past my window, a 40-seater. In the morning, it takes secondary school students to school. So it's pretty full and it accepts people in addition to school transport. During the day, out of the 40 seats, there are about four or five people on each journey, and yet the line exists. And then there's the city of Montpellier, which has made all public transport free. This is a success story. The Occitanie region, which runs TER trains at €1, is a success. Germany, which has just introduced a €49 all-public-transport monthly pass, is a big success. In any case, what we're seeing is that when public authorities propose new things and communicate them well, they work. So, perhaps in some rural areas, the right modality hasn't yet been found or accepted. But the good, strong and sustained initiatives that have been taken in a whole host of different places and countries show that behaviour can change.

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
Yes, and it's worth noting that good communication is needed to ensure acceptance.

[00:42:21.050] - Jean-Marie Perbost
It's worth noting that you need great communication, as in Aude, the department I'm in, there are several schemes. I don't think any of them are well enough communicated or marketed to explain them clearly to people. And as a result, I think that the level of awareness and the idea that people have of the practical side of these applications mean that they are not yet as successful as they could be. So, yes, we'll have to add a few layers of good marketing.

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
So we're going to slowly make our way to the end of this podcast. One thing I've noticed is that I've been trying to find you on the internet and you've been very quiet on the networks. I wanted to ask you if there was any particular reason for this.

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
There's a particular reason for that. I remember when it happened, I immediately saw that it was a lot of fun. And that I was going to spend a lot of time on it. And so I said to myself that if I put a foot in it, I was screwed, especially Twitter at the time. I'm a news fan, so I already spend a lot of time on media sites. I spend a lot of time commenting on them and having skirmishes over them, so I was really screwed. So it's really a question of personal health in terms of time. Then it happened to me in communications. I've run political campaigns using social networks, and while I think it's a very interesting marketing tool (with La Belle Transition and Le Mi.Lieu, we have social networks), I see it as a waste of time.

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
Okay, it's good to know where you want to invest your time and not get lost.

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
I'm convinced that the best social network is still a coffee counter.

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
To get back to the title of this podcast, and to begin the conclusion, do you think it's possible to do marketing in a world that needs sobriety? Isn't this ultimately contradictory? And if it isn't, what would this marketing be, for what purpose?

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
No, you absolutely have to market in a world of sobriety. Because sobriety is new, it's complex, it requires change, and so you have to explain it and make it desirable. Which could be a definition of marketing. Especially as, for the moment, we live in a marketed world. So, if good products refuse to be marketed at all, not only do they make enormous demands on the product, but they also play the boxing match with one hand behind their backs. So, marketing and sobriety are absolutely essential. The question is that, as we said at the start of the podcast, there are lots of different types of marketing. I don't think sober products should be marketed like other products. You have to sort out the methods. You have to sort out the message. And that's very useful. We can't sell sobriety like we sold other products in other eras. But yes, above all, we have to keep selling it, explaining it and making it beautiful and desirable. Opponents always say, as soon as we talk about energy, it's the candle. Back to the candle. Whoever says that is marketing. So if we don't make another kind of energy, another way of consuming energy, desirable, it won't work. As it happens, the same people have done exactly the opposite. At the time of the war in Ukraine, we saw companies selling electricity and companies selling gas asking people to buy less of it. So it's a kind of marketing we've rarely seen, to take out advertisements in the press and media to say "consume less of our products". Well, in a particular situation, but it does open up a fairly significant field of possibilities on the issue of a certain kind of degrowth.

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
This is what we call with Cyril Espalieu of Everide, the marketing of renunciation. Sometimes, it can be positive to encourage people to give up what they're used to, particularly in terms of comfort and image. It's not always easy to get across this notion, because giving up is not seen as a very positive thing, and there's a lot to be said for turning the situation and perception on its head.

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
Renunciation is the road to something, but in the end, it's the marketing of enough. At some point, it's a question of how to bring the joy, the satisfaction of saying "I've got what I need". And that can be for many reasons, because the product is durable, the product is functional, the service is complete. It's enough for me. And so it's marketing that can be quite exciting to go out and sell, offer, explain what's enough.

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
Going for the essential?

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
Yes

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
Finally, could you give us a few examples of companies whose approach you particularly admire?

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
I can give it a try. There's one I talk about regularly because I know the founders and I think it's a brilliant success. It's Veja, which produces sneakers. The two of them, Sébastien Kopp and Ghislain Morillion, started out with €15,000 each, in a sector that was a little taken for granted. At the time, it was a bit of an oligopoly between Reebok, Nike and Adidas. And they said to themselves, "We're going to launch fair-trade sneakers", meaning that they'd have them produced under social conditions in Brazil that they audit regularly, which are really top-notch, and then there was a concern about the material from every point of view: organic cotton, growth-free leather, vegetable tanning, etc. They're improving things as they go along. And Veja has never taken an ad. Which is quite interesting. They've never bought an ad, they do very little marketing, or it's so tied in with the brand that you almost don't see it anymore, and it seems to me, for that reason, a pretty dazzling success. Every year, it takes on greater proportions internationally. This is a company which, at the beginning, communicated its green values, mainly on its website or in the few interviews it gave. But when the greenwashing movement took off, the company stopped communicating about its green values altogether, so as not to be associated with greenwashing. So if you look for it, you'll find it. But the majority of people who buy Veja shoes today don't know that they're buying more virtuous shoes.

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
That's interesting. But then it's often those who do the least who end up being the most virtuous. Thank you very much for your participation.

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
But it's a great pleasure!

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
We'll see you again soon, and have fun with your mushrooms this afternoon.

Jean-Marie Perbost, La Belle Transition
Absolutely! Thanks to all those who will listen. On a car journey, at the office because they were feeling peckish, at home in a quiet moment. I too will be listening to the few previous episodes that I haven't had time to listen to yet, and those that are coming up with a lot of treats.

Jonathan Loriaux, Badsender
Thanks, see you soon!

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