How To Elevate Your Brand's Sustainability Efforts
With sustainability at the top of consumers' minds, in fact, 82% more so than pre-COVID, businesses can no longer afford to overlook their environmental impact. Nevertheless, we understand that this increased demand to step up to the sustainability plate can be overwhelming, especially during unpredictable times. Whether your business has just begun its sustainability journey, or you’re looking for the next progression, we’ve compiled some simple steps to help elevate your brand's sustainability efforts.
Make Sustainable Choices Simple
In the last 12 months, Google has observed a substantial increase in “sustainability” searches, with “zero waste” growing 6X faster than its other eco searches. Consumers are becoming more educated than ever on these issues, which results in an increase in demand for both brands and governments worldwide to do more to reach “destination zero”, a world where humans have zero impact on the environment. With this in mind, it’s critical for brands to start to integrate sustainability into their business model. Google said it best with “people don’t expect brands to become perfect stewards overnight, but they want to learn about what you’re doing to improve sustainability now”. Start with small changes whether it be using or switching to recycled, recyclable, or biodegradable materials, reducing waste, offering carbon-neutral shipping, donating to organizations, switching to local suppliers, or reducing energy usage. For consumers, it’s important for sustainable shopping options to still remain just as, if not more, affordable, convenient, and accessible than the less sustainable options. Of course, not everyone has sustainability as a priority, but when the eco-choices become more convenient and simple, it makes sustainability feel much more achievable. This, in turn, will motivate consumers to continue to make those decisions. However, it’s important to remember, no-one expects brands to transition to destination zero overnight, but it is important to communicate efforts that you are taking steps in the right direction.
Communicate your Efforts, Goals, and Journey
According to Forbes, 68% of highly empowered consumers intend to increase efforts to find brands that reduce environmental impact. This means that tokenism will no longer stand in eco-shopping. Consumers are looking for brands that make meaningful and tangible sustainable efforts that align with the brands’ core values, as opposed to those who are “greenwashing”. Again, none of this is possible overnight, however consumers are looking for more transparency from brands to know the changes and efforts that are being made. Additionally, if you are working with a partner, organization, or project, e.g. carbon offsets, you can amplify their efforts and how the partnership is making far greater impacts than is possible alone. This transparency and communication allow consumers to see how sustainability can solve everyday problems and how all of these small steps, make an impact on a much larger scale. Throughout the shopping experience, communication is also critical to help consumers find the products that reflect their values, such as filters for sustainable or recyclable materials or vegan-friendly options. It’s also important to outline your goals which allow consumers to feel a key part of the journey every time they make a purchase, which leads us perfectly to our next point.
Recognize, Reward & Motivate
With over 73% of millennials claiming that they would prefer to buy from a sustainable business in 2020, it is clear that this demand for sustainability is not just a “fad”. However, consumers are often left feeling guilty about their choices and overwhelmed that they are unable to do enough, which is why it is critical to recognize, reward, and motivate. Both consumers and brands can recognize that we cannot change the world overnight, but when we shift the tone from doom and gloom to far more positive messaging, consumers feel more motivated to continue to make changes. This also helps the process feel much less overwhelming and that together, little by little, we can achieve our goals. In addition, communicating these efforts well will also help consumers to stay on the sustainability path for longer as they see clearly how they, personally, are helping to make a difference.
In summary, sustainability is not just good for the planet, it’s also good for your business. With consumers increasingly searching for sustainable and eco-conscious brands, your sustainability strategy is key, not only for the recent shift in consumer trends but also to prepare for the long term.