“Two thirds of UK consumers want to see action on e-commerce sustainability”
“Half of UK Shoppers influenced by brand eco credentials”
These are just a couple of the headlines seen in the press this week after a simple Google search on Sustainability UK. Of course, this narrative will come as no surprise given the importance of combating climate change and living more sustainably, but what comes across loud and clear is how important sustainability is to UK consumers.
According to a recent survey by Deloitte, 61% of UK consumers have reduced their usage of single use plastics and 34% have chosen to buy from brands that have environmentally sustainable practices and values. Whilst there is still some way to go before we can consider ourselves a truly environmentally friendly driven society, it’s clear this shift in consumer behaviour represents a real opportunity for brands to consider their own roles in how we can all become more sustainable.
Looking at this from a marketing perspective, it’s obviously hugely important for brands to focus their attention on the consumer experience and the timeline within which they should engage with their customers. Whereas previously this had typically been at the point of purchase or initial interaction, a sustainability led approach enables brands to continually communicate throughout the lifecycle of a product or service, with it’s environmental footprint the key focus.
Something to consider here is that middle ground on the venn diagram between product lifecycle and customer lifecycle. The brands that blaze the trail for sustainability are the ones that are already focusing on the full lifecycle of their products. Let’s take L’Oreal, for example. In 2013, L’Oréal decided to scrutinise the core of its activity: its global sustainability program “Sharing Beauty With All’, the development of beauty products and announcing tangible sustainability goals towards 2020. Alas, in 2020, 96% of L’Oréal’s new or renovated products had an improved environmental and social profile. It’s clear that L’Oreal saw environmental sustainability as a key part of it’s appeal to consumers.
Conversely, Ikea has taken a product lifecycle approach and targets customers when products reach the end of their lifecycle. Via it’s buy back program, IKEA purchases its own used furniture to resell, this lengthening the products lifespan and avoiding it going straight into landfill.
The message here is that brands who aren’t already doing so, really need to make sustainability one the pillars of their brand. It needs to permeate throughout their business; from the way we operate on a day to day basis behind the scenes to marketing strategies and customer relationships.
The stats show that consumers are becoming more and more conscious of their own environmental footprints, and that product lifecycles need to be extended as we move away from the use and dispose model.
Sustainable marketing is all about the long term; re-aligning your focus from short-term goals to long-term brand engagement and success. When a company marries its marketing strategy with its targets on sustainability, it usually leads to a long standing and loyal relationship with its customers. And whilst this blog has looked primarily at how sustainable marketing can significantly impact customer relationships, it’s important to remember the role we all play in contributing to a greener planet. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, as the saying goes.
*Sources: Deloitte, The Drum, Internet Retailing
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog, happy sustinable marketing!