ThinkOTB Agency

How is sustainability influencing your marketing strategy?

October 11, 2022

The topic of sustainability is gaining traction around the globe. Consumers are demanding a balance of value for money and products which cause little or no damage to the environment. Or, they want to know the brands they buy from are supporting social or economic causes. In this blog, we look at how marketers and marketing agencies can improve a brand’s sustainability credentials, without being accused of greenwashing.

Many think of sustainability as a Gen Z issue. But, it is a concern that is increasingly driving purchase decisions across the generations. In fact, 33% of consumers state they would spend more for a sustainable product or service. 73% of consumers state they would stop purchasing from companies that don’t tackle sustainability issues.

Furthermore, 92% of consumers say they’re more likely to trust brands that are environmentally or socially conscious. 88% of consumers state they will be more loyal to a company that supports social or environmental issues. It’s clear that sustainable products do actually grow sales. It’s thought that only 60% of business have sustainability strategies. But, given that companies can increase their brand value and give themselves a competitive advantage in the market by focusing on sustainability, it makes sense that marketers should communicate sustainability as an integral part of a brand’s marketing strategy.

So how do businesses transition to become a sustainable brand?

To truly become a sustainable brand you need to account for every business cost – economic, social and environmental. This trio known as the triple bottom line. This is evident in recent government policy decisions that have attempted to capture environmental and social costs of business. The gov have introduced carbon credits, global reporting initiatives and landfill taxes.

Another way to transition to a sustainable brand is through using the circular economy approach. Waste becomes a valuable input to another production process. Products are being repaired, reused, or upgraded instead of thrown away.

The UN has also set out 17 specific SMART goals as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These are a blueprint for governments, businesses and societies around the world to help end poverty, protect the planet’s future and improve the lives of everyone.

How do you market sustainability?

When it comes to demonstrating to consumers that businesses are thinking about sustainability, it often falls to us, as marketeers to do this. This is where it can become a challenge. 73% of consumers state they would stop purchasing from companies that don’t tackle sustainability issues.

The extent to which your brand should take its sustainability strategy, accreditations and marketing all depends on your target audience. If environmental, social or economic causes are things that resonate with them, and that they would put their hand in their pocket for, then it is worth putting a sustainability marketing strategy in place. As always, your strategy needs to be relevant to your target market.

Green credentials can range from businesses promoting the fact that they use recycled paper for all their customer communications, to using 100% alternative materials. You can also promote sustainable accreditations such as Carbon Literacy and carbon neutrality.

Brands that have products or services that are not easily adaptable to using green processes can offset their carbon footprint by donating to a sustainable cause or planting trees for every purchase made. If sustainability is really important for your target market, you can work with companies such as B Corp. They will assess your business standards and are independently governed by a Standards Advisory Council, curated by B Lab. Admittedly, this is an investment in both time and money. So, you’ll need to assess the benefit to your consumers of being able to promote this accreditation.

Don’t greenwash

Businesses need to be careful how they talk about their sustainability practices. It’s becoming increasingly important to substantiate every claim so you can avoid accusations of greenwashing. The Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) now includes rules for marketing environmental claims. Businesses must be able to demonstrate up-to-date, credible evidence to show that the green claim is true. Where general claims (eco-friendly, green, or sustainable for example) are being made, these must reflect the whole lifecycle of the brand, product, business, or service. It should not mislead consumers about the product’s total environmental impact.

Are you ready to market your business’ sustainability credentials authentically and in a way that appeals to your target market? Speak to us about how to do this talk to the ThinkOTB team.