Studies have shown that a significant portion of the American public is concerned about climate change. In fact, 60 percent of Americans view it as a major threat to the well-being of the country, and 65 percent find that the federal government isn’t doing enough to reduce climate change.
With U.S. consumers increasingly concerned about the planet’s future, it’s important that brands make sustainability a key element of their marketing strategy — here’s how.
What Is Sustainable Marketing?
Sustainable marketing is the practice of promoting socially responsible products, services, and behaviors. Examples include highlighting that your products are organic, made from recycled materials, or locally sourced.
However, you don’t need to be an eco-friendly brand to use sustainability concepts in your strategy. Instead, you can pledge to plant a certain number of trees, emphasize your commitment to sustainability on your website and packaging, support organizations that are fighting climate change, or look at your supply chain and identify ways to manufacture your products in a more eco-friendly way and reduce your carbon footprint.
The Benefits of Sustainable Marketing
Consumers want to contribute to a better world and one way of doing that is by supporting worthy causes and socially conscious companies. That’s why sustainable marketing is essential to the growth of your brand — it helps differentiate you from competitors and gain the trust of prospective customers.
Here’s an overview of the benefits of sustainable marketing:
- Attracting consumers from the growing eco-conscious market
- Building a strong brand reputation
- Developing a purpose-driven company culture
- Attracting employees who want to make a difference in the world
- Increasing employee engagement
- Winning more bids, as companies and governments want to work with socially and environmentally responsible brands
What Does This Mean for Your Brand?
This year, Deloitte conducted a study on consumer attitudes and behaviors associated with sustainability. It found that a growing number of people had started to follow a more sustainable lifestyle in the past year.
In fact, 40 percent of consumers selected brands with environmentally sustainable values and practices over those that didn’t incorporate sustainability in their marketing and brand messaging. That means if sustainability is not part of your marketing strategy, you may lose out on a large group of potential customers.
5 Steps to Implementing Sustainable Marketing
Once you’re committed to including sustainability in your corporate values, it’s not that difficult to apply. But you need a clear framework with defined targets to create impact, reduce your carbon footprint and show the results of your efforts. When done correctly, this will build trust, strengthen your reputation, and drive sales.
Here are 5 steps to implementing sustainable marketing in your business:
1. Define Your Purpose
The first thing you need to do is define your purpose. Find out what matters to your target audience and then decide what worthy cause you want to support. Once you have a clear social mission connected to the products and services you offer, you can start to work on your messaging.
2. Create Sustainable Messaging
As soon as you are clear on your values and purpose, you can create a brand story. Since consumers trust and value transparent brands, make sure to stay away from buzzwords and embellished copy and focus on authentic messaging rooted in facts, evidence, and social proof instead.
3. Communicate With Your Customers
It’s essential that you stay in touch with your customers enough to remain in their minds without being overbearing. A great way to educate and connect to your target market beyond the buying cycle is through newsletters and social media. Let them know what you’re doing to create impact and how your efforts are fairing.
4. Partner With Sustainable Organizations
Take it a step further by partnering with organizations that align with your values. Not only does this allow you to boost your brand awareness and reach a wider audience, but it also shows your dedication to your cause.
5. Don’t Greenwash
Most brands are aware that sustainability as a value is important to attract consumers and gain their trust. However, some companies don’t actually support worthy causes, and instead, only use so-called greenwashing practices to try and win consumers over.
Born out of corporate greed, companies typically use greenwashing to gain immediate returns. Also known as “green sheen”, greenwashing refers to a type of advertising that uses deceptive methods to convince the public that their products are environmentally friendly, even if that’s not the case.
In contrast to that, real sustainability marketing creates long-term value. It goes without saying that you should never make false claims and jeopardize trust in the hopes of riding the sustainability wave and increasing your sales. Instead, be honest about the challenges you may face in becoming more eco-friendly — consumers appreciate and understand that.
It may be daunting to change your strategy, especially if you’re new to sustainable marketing. However, if you want to continue attracting and engaging consumers, and grow as a brand, you need to start thinking of a bigger purpose beyond your bottom line and communicate that with the public.
Once you show that you care about the future of our planet, you’ll gain people’s trust, build brand awareness, and drive sales — not to mention that you’ll create a positive work environment where employees care about changing the world for the better. In short: sustainable marketing isn’t just a win for the world but also one for your business.