Murtaza Bakir, Mintel speaks on why sustainable brand solutions are not only beneficial for the environment but also for brands, sharing how honest and consistent communication is the way forward.
The appearance of doing good is not enough. Genuinely and consistently being good is what matters to consumers and the environment. While ‘green-friendly consumer choices are key to reducing the negative impact on the environment, consumers are more driven by outcomes than altruism alone. A brand needs to, therefore, consistently demonstrate honest action in the form of creating a product or service that genuinely can make a tangible difference.
In this article, we will explore why this is an opportunity to become chosen partners of those consumers seeking to make positive changes for the world at large.
Consumer Sustainability 101
Even though building sustainable values is not a new notion, why is it that consumers are more concerned about issues right now?
A majority of optimists believe that there is still some time for redemption and course correction, rooted in a common faith that one action is capable of begetting a domino effect. Starting a chain of responsibility is a great opportunity for brands to choose partners and consumers looking for a change. The challenge, however, is maintaining a relationship that provides security and comes clean on the impact the brand’s existence has on the consumer’s specific environment across geographies.
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Consumers are concerned with what they can see and experience and will most likely not compromise on the quality of the product. The desire to be healthy and make environment-friendly choices suggests that the brand has an innate responsibility to appeal to consumers with a sense of optimism and impact. This is why a brand should never discount the ‘pleasure principle. A ‘sustainable’ coffee brand, at the end of the day, sells coffee. It must deliver on the pleasure of great taste and quality before anything else.
Similarly, sustainability is as important for packaging, as are the practical and fundamental elements of it. That is, protecting the shelf life of the product as well as minimizing wastage of energy and resources for its production is vital in packaging.
This is why the aspirations of the consumers play the most effective role in helping brands create tangible solutions and space in the market for their products. The areas where consumers believe that they are more likely to feel the adverse effects of climate change are more likely to avoid buying air conditioners and air purifiers. They are equally more likely to be open to using home solar panels and Electric Vehicles (EV) even if they are not practicing the same currently.
The Pivoting Effect On Market: Seeing Is Believing
Consumers are moving slowly but surely towards simplicity and frugality as a way of living. They believe that cutting back on spending and worldly consumerism will have a positive effect on their quality of life. Given that abstinence costs next to nothing, recent characterization studies confirm that reducing consumption is a novel way for people to reduce their emissions, and conserve resources. For example, the success of fashion resellers such as Depop (18+ million users and counting) is built on the sustainable consumer group’s appeal to a combined sense of authenticity, individuality, and sustainability.
This is why we see a rising demand for clearer language and metrics growing among those admitting that some issues are difficult to understand – even more so among those voicing distrust of companies’ claims. Consumers today are not satiated with platitudes and mission statements, but rather data-driven clarification, quantification, and certification.
This means, if they are to buy any sustainable product, then such information must be delivered through marketing communications as well as on packaging. A great example of this is the beauty brand ‘Cocokind’, which explains their product’s environmental impact at every stage of their pre-to-post manufacturing lifecycle.
Furthermore, environmental and social innovations that have a high-to-moderate impact are opportunities for companies to roll out consumer-friendly strategies that don’t require much explanation nor skill. However, they are required to hold up the consumer priorities.
For example, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals’ community development project ‘Konku-Pichoku’ concentrates on malnutrition and drives backyard farming in partnership with three hospitals in Aurangabad and Mumbai, Maharashtra. By pledging CSR activities, brands can position themselves while avoiding offsetting their entire operational chain, all while making small adjustments towards renewability.
Honesty Is The Best Policy
While CSR activities are impactful, they happen to be a short-term band-aid. For example, protecting entire forests is a way more impactful solution than planting saplings that won’t absorb as much carbon dioxide as mature trees would. The older the forest, the greater the impact. Likewise, the more honest the intention, the greater the impact.
The article has been authored by Murtaza Bakir, Country Manager, India & Sri Lanka, Mintel.