Sustainability is a widely-used business buzzword - but it has more substance than most. The environmental impact of your business is relevant to almost every area of its activities, from manufacturing and distribution to sales and even marketing.
Of course, an important question to ask is whether customers actually care about the environmental impact of the brands they buy from. The figures seem to suggest that they do, with an estimated 87% of customers revealing that they have a more positive opinion of businesses that support key social or environmental issues.
Millennials are particularly concerned about a business’s environmental impact, with 68% of this demographic having purchased a product with social and sustainability benefits during the last 12 months.
Here we explore how a brand’s approach to sustainability impacts on the success of their marketing strategies.
The impact of environmental slip-ups
Make no mistake; the figures make it clear that brands with a keen interest in sustainability are more likely to be viewed positively by consumers. By the same token, those that prioritise profits over the environment are seen in a negative light - especially larger brands that boast vast financial resources.
Amazon is one brand that has fallen foul of this in recent times, after it introduced new lightweight plastic mailers and reduced the number of shipments sent using cardboard boxes. This decision was taken to enable a higher volume of packages to be carried by delivery trucks and cargo planes.
However, customers and environmental activists have railed at this decision, claiming that the new plastic sacks aren’t recyclable in kerbside bins. As a result, they’re backing up recycling centres nationwide before ultimately ending up in landfill - which is doing little to improve the public image of the ecommerce giant.
Oil giant BP has also seen its reputation affected by a perceived lack of regard for their impact on the environment - though, admittedly, companies in this sector are already at a disadvantage.
After the brand launched a largely successful £200 million marketing campaign to improve its image at the turn of the century, it was sent back to square one 10 years later after an explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig left 11 workers dead and the surrounding environment in a state of disrepair.
These examples demonstrate the increasingly intrinsic link between marketing and sustainability, both in terms of brand perception and how businesses look to promote themselves in the first place.
Eco-packaging and courier firms
Another industry that constantly comes under fire from environmentalists is the courier sector, which uses high volumes of packaging in shipping goods across the globe.
However, we have seen considerable movement in this space over the last few years, with market leaders such as TNT having invested in the development of sustainable packaging and materials such as corrugated cardboard way back in 2012.
Not only this, but changes in the way that customers search for couriers have also created opportunities for brands to market themselves based on their approach to sustainability. Modern parcel comparison sites enable customers to measure courier firms against a number of metrics - from price and lead time to the way in which goods are packed and transported.
Given that customers are increasingly swayed by brands with a strong focus on the environment, this enables couriers to tailor their marketing campaigns and promote themselves in terms of the positive contribution that they make to sustainability.
With further innovations expected in the fields of reusable and renewable packaging, courier firms will continue to blaze a trail for marketers in other sectors to follow.
Copyright © 2019 Article was made possible by site supporter Victoria Harrison