Following the 26th edition of the Conference of the Parties (COP26), sustainability in business has been drawn into focus once again. We’ve all heard we can ‘do our bit’ for the planet and a key part of how we go about that involves the businesses we engage with.
With 65% of consumers believing that brands are just as responsible to drive social change as governments, sharing the sustainable development of your brand can be a great way to engage and build trust with consumers.
But quite how and where you should convey your message as part of your business strategy takes some careful consideration.
Read on to discover how best to communicate your brand sustainability.
1. Understand your audience
Just because consumer interest in brand sustainability has hugely increased in recent years doesn’t mean it’s a high priority for all consumers.
Nearly a quarter (22%) of respondents in a Deloitte survey said that lack of interest was the biggest reason for not adopting a more sustainable lifestyle, followed by it being too expensive (16%). Whilst it may still be worth communicating your eco-efforts it might not make sense to lead with it as a core part of your eco messaging.
However, Gen Z was the most sustainability-conscious group – 45% choosing to stop purchasing from certain brands because of sustainability concerns. So, if you have a brand that targets consumers born roughly between the mid-90s and 2010 you know that it’s worth your time publicising your sustainability efforts.
Once you better understand the extent to which the demographic makeup of your audience cares about your brand’s sustainable development, it’s much easier to know how much emphasis to give this in your messaging.
2. Identify your sustainability practices
Sustainability practices come in all forms. Some of what your business does may significantly lower your effect on the environment whilst others may have a barely detectable impact at all. You may provide recyclable packaging – but just how much of it is actually recyclable? 100%, 90%, 15%? Perhaps some of your product is made from supplies sourced both locally and internationally. That may lower your carbon footprint but what if a competitor can claim their entire product is made locally or nationally? Your answers will determine the extent to which it will be best to highlight this in your messaging.
3. Use trade-offs to your advantage
Even if your products or processes aren’t as minimally impactful as they could be, you may still be able to use this to your advantage. Remember, brand sustainability isn’t the only factor in a user’s decision making. You may have a product made from high-end materials that are less energy-efficient to produce than alternatives, but those superior materials may be more durable, meaning your product will last longer and won’t need to be replaced as often. Or maybe most of your packaging is recyclable but there is an element of it that isn’t yet, for example, perhaps you use plastic straws instead of paper straws. Call that out alongside your intention to eventually replace these in the near future. Consumers will respect your honesty and appreciate that you are making an effort to be more sustainable whilst understanding that it can’t all be done at once.
4. Beware of greenwashing
Customers are more aware than ever of understanding whether a business is overstating its green efforts or presenting itself as being environmentally friendly in one area of their business whilst doing damage in another. This is known as ‘greenwashing’. Being caught out on this can be damaging to brand identity. That’s why it’s important to honestly reflect the positive impact a change makes without overselling it. This is not to say that all brands do this deliberately, of course, but it can be easy to make your brand’s efforts sound more impressive than they are.
5. Messaging placement: follow the funnel
As you put together your content marketing strategy there are always plenty of opportunities to incorporate your brand sustainability messaging when you consider the complete customer journey.
Whilst the specific sales funnel may look a bit different from one brand to another, each stage offers similar placement opportunities for your messaging.
Top of the funnel
During the ‘awareness and discovery’ stage your audience is just learning about your brand and what it offers. At this stage, you could discuss the eco-friendly practices at your office in a blog article about your company, or your social media marketing could include an Instagram advert about using more sustainable materials in your products.
Middle of the funnel
In the exploration stage, your prospective customers are looking to your brand as a potential solution for them.
An infographic would be a handy way of highlighting lots of your sustainability efforts in one engaging image. For example, you may want to use it to showcase the impact your eco-efforts have made over the past year.
Another method is to highlight any official certifications you may have such as Organic by the Soil Association or include a label showing how much of your packaging is recycled on your product pages.
Bottom of the funnel
As your customers show intent to take action, you’re closing in on converting potential customers to actual customers. A case study would be one way to highlight your eco-values at the same time as reassuring your lead prospect of your product or service’s real-world effectiveness.
Sustainability worth shouting about
With an increasing number of sustainable brands in the UK, there is clearly great consumer concern with ethical and sustainable business practices but also a great opportunity. So long as you convey an honest appraisal, weaving your sustainability messaging into your content marketing strategy benefits both your consumers and your brand.
If you need help with any part of your content marketing strategy, simply get in touch today and our experts will be only too glad to help you reach your goals.