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Why sustainability marketing is important

There’s more to it than reporting…

Consumers prefer sustainable brands, especially millennials. Multiple studies confirm this and we see the evidence every day on newscasts, with coverage of climate-change marches, plogging and beach cleanups.

However, consumers’ purchasing patterns lag behind their environmental aspirations. How come? Although there are many ways to explain the gap between stated interests and actual purchasing behavior, one of the main issues seems to be the lack of sustainable products and clear, sustainable marketing stories.

Truly sustainable brands are still a minority. For every sustainable product there are dozens of less conscious alternatives. Hence, identifying the eco/socio-friendly products consumers would like to buy is like searching for a needle in a haystack.

And how can brands make themselves stick out from the crowd? Through marketing, of course.

Unfortunately, this is where even the most sustainable companies fall short. They might have a sustainability report, which is great. They might even have a corporate sustainability page on their website, which is nice as well. But it’s just not enough.

Consumers probably won’t check the sustainability page of your website, let alone take the time to download or read your sustainability report, regardless of the accolades an environmentally-sound product or brand has received. Why should they? These tools are not made for them. They’re there to inform investors, journalists, job applicants, students, etc. But not the consumer.

Other less-sustainable brands are not targeting consumers through technical reports or information hidden away somewhere on a website. Far from it. They’re out there handing consumers their information on a silver platter, through targeted social advertising on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook or other social media channels. By hiring influencers to promote their brands and organizing/sponsoring events close to their ‘buyers’.

Marketing sustainable brands should be no different. Companies should not be ‘hiding’ their sustainability claim behind the technical side of their communication arsenal. They should be going full throttle, presenting sustainability attributes as strongly as any other positive feature of their brand. How to achieve this? It’s simple:

  • Tell a clear story. What is your sustainability claim? What is the relevance for your company? What solution or assistance is your company providing to tackle one of the global issues facing society today? People love to hear stories, so make sure your sustainability message is positive, engaging and relatable.
  • Make it visible. One of the best ways to get your message across is to visualize it. Use photos, animation and video to show your sustainability actions. Present your data visually, using infographics, animated charts, etc.
  • Make it easily accessible. Your sustainability story is an important part of your company profile, so make sure people cannot miss it. Use all your tools to spread your story. Tell it on social media, through content marketing, even native advertising. Get the support of the right ambassadors. And don’t forget traditional offline methods, for instance, organizing/sponsoring events, adding sustainability information/labels to your products, etc.

Are you maximizing your sustainability story across the entire spectrum of your communications programs or is your program still hidden in your annual report or on a solitary web page? At Living Stone, we can help you find the best ways to share your story and optimize the impact for all of your audiences. Contact Maarten Geerts to learn how.

Maarten Geerts
Maarten Geerts
Sustainability expert

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