More consumers and B2B buyers consider sustainability practices during their purchase decisions.
According to a recent international study by Unilever, one-third of consumers choose to buy brands that have a positive environmental or social impact; and this behavior is only going to increase. A 2017 Colmar Brunton study found that almost 70% of Kiwis are willing to pay a bit more to get the best organic, sustainable & ethically produced products available and over 80% of Kiwis would stop buying a company’s products if they heard about them being irresponsible or unethical.
This same report advised that accumulation of plastic in the environment is now a concern for two out of three New Zealanders and that eight out ten think clean water and sanitation is important.
It is also important for attracting and retaining talent as well as influencing brand reputation. 73% of Kiwis say it’s important for them to work for a company
that is socially and environmentally responsible and 64% of Kiwis would rather work for a company with strong values even if they are paid less.
From a B2B perspective more businesses are likely to buy from other businesses who values match their own and according to a 2016 Gallup Poll, 71% of B2B customers do not feel engaged with their B2B suppliers. Marketers can use sustainability initiatives to close this gap. B2B companies can engage with their customers by showing their commitment to sustainability which in turn helps to build trust and it can help with creating differentiation compared to your competitors that aren’t doing this.
In addition while the New Zealand government isn’t driving change in their procurement yet, this will become necessary if as a nation we are to meet our obligations under the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). New Zealand was a signatory to the 17 SDGs in 2015 with aim of the ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all. And so, if you are supplier that has central and local government customers it will be important that you can demonstrate what your contribution towards these goals are.
So what can you do to communicate your sustainability efforts?
First, look at what your company is already doing as you’re most likely already engaging in some form of sustainability initiatives. Does your company have a recycling program? Have you recently cut back on energy or water consumption? What practices in your supply chain contribute to reducing resources?
You need to be transparent and authentic and to not engage in green washing. Customers are very astute to organisations who claims relating to sustainability are vague, not credible or misleading. Engage with your stakeholders to find out what’s most important to them and educate them on what specific actions your company is taking to reduce environmental impact and and why these actions make a difference. You could look at producing a sustainability report or align yourself to a green organisation for accreditation.
If your organisation has yet to incorporate social and environmental practices, learn what areas you could make improvements. This can help reduce costs for your business as well by drive efficiency, minimise waste, create a platform for innovation and help to mitigate risk. Only once those changes have been applied can you form your marketing strategy around sustainability and to communicate the sustainability practices your organisation is doing.