Sustainability Marketing

When it comes to sustainability marketing many firms are daunted run for cover at the prospect of communicating their green initiatives. The big fear is with “Green Washing” whereby firms in the past have been caught telling tall tales about their greenness.

Sustainability marketing is a move away from merely selling to customers.  It embraces the development of longer term value relationships and gets companies thinking about marketing more broadly to include the socio and the eco-environments. Often known as green marketing, sustainability marketing is a strategy that involves the promotion, sales, and distribution of products and services that leave less of a footprint on the environment.

50% of global consumers are willing to pay more for goods and services from socially responsible companies that have implemented programmes to give back to society. This is an increase of 5% from 2011 (45%), according to new research from Nielsen. More companies are recognising that putting sustainability at the heart of their strategies will reap rewards in the longer term such as admiration by customers as well as respect and loyalty.

Communications connected to sustainability to trade or consumer audiences must be a natural fit with your brand. One of the best ways to communicate about a company’s sustainable marketing efforts is through story-telling, keeping the language simple and down to earth with examples of sustainability in action. Tell your audience the type of green activities you are doing, put a face and a name to those in charge of such initiatives and be transparent. The reach of these stories will be enabled via online media including social whereby the very nature of this communications medium is “sharing”.

In a recent interview, Senator Fergal Quinn advised firms “if you are embracing green credentials, then you need to communicate this message very clearly to your consumers, otherwise you may not get recognition for what you are doing, even though you may be investing more money in this area.

A well known corporate sustainability strategy is Marks & Spencer’s Plan A. They grouped their sustainability challenges under 5 headings:

  1. Climate change
  2. Waste
  3. Sustainability sourcing
  4. Ethical trading standards
  5. Helping consumers & employees live a healthier lifestyle

Marks & Spencer pledged to meet targets in each of these key environmental and social issues confronting their business but it is important to note that these issues impact on their end consumers and trade customers and suppliers alike. Connection is key. When your audience can relate to your green initiatives and can see your company trying to act and make a positive difference to their world, impressions are made influencing word of mouth and social sharing.

*For reference a great read through this landscape is “Sustainability Marketing” by Frank-Martin Belz and Ken Peattie. You can find an overview about the book here.

 

The Bord Bia International Communications Manager works to communicate the benefits of purchasing food and beverages from Ireland internationally. Centrally coordinating the consistent creative marketing communications work of Bord Bia in priority markets overseas and managing Bord Bia’s international media relations while communicating Origin Green, Ireland’s sustainability development programme.

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