Destroying our planet for profit is simply no longer acceptable these days. Nowadays, consumers have become aware of how much damage businesses are bringing to our Mother Nature through pollution, poor waste management, and wasting natural resources. So, if you want to stay in the game of business, you need to go green or go home in 2020.
It has become official that today’s consumers, especially Millennial customers prefer sustainable brands and businesses. In fact, 73% of them claim that they are willing to pay more for products or services that come from companies with green business processes, according to a 2015 study from Nielsen.
Although sustainability in the way they buy is a relatively new perspective for consumers, it is already gaining momentum among them. That is why today’s businesses must now become responsible corporate citizens. And, customers are willing to support them.
Why is sustainability so important?
Sustainability in the business landscape is a relatively new concept that has been growing over the last decade. Yet, these days it seems to be more popular than ever before with more than 90% of CEOs considering sustainability fundamental for success. So, what changed?
It isn’t rocket science to figure out what changed the perceptions of consumers. We are all witnessing the major environmental changes that take place around the world as a consequence of reckless human actions.
From climate changes to our world’s waters being filled with waste, poorer air quality, and extreme weather, these are all changes that triggered consumers to want to find out more about who are the main contributors to the damage brought to our planet. And, as you may be guessing, corporate pollution is one of the biggest contributors.
Another major factor that changed the way customers choose a brand over another is the raising awareness of environmental issues. Compared to older generations, today’s customers are also tech-savvy individuals meaning they have constant access to information. So, they have become more aware of what actions lead to damaging our planet. If there is news about an environmental issue online, it will most likely go viral engaging all today’s young consumers to find out more about what caused it.
And, since consumers’ behavior and market trends go hand in hand with the products and services offered by businesses, it comes as no surprise that businesses changed their perspective over going green as well.
Sustainable branding in 2020
Today, marketing is a vast and interesting universe with a number of tools, opportunities, and winning strategies all over the place. Yet, if you have no idea what truly engages customers and convinces them to choose you over your competitors, you have already lost the battle. And, obviously, sustainable branding is a major winning strategy these days which you should not overlook.
What is sustainable branding? Examples of sustainability initiatives would be something like developing sustainable products or services, publishing reports on your efforts to lower your impact or creating positions in your company for specialists who can help you learn how to become greener. So, like it or not, sustainable branding is nothing like just telling customers that your business is green. It takes changing all your business processes to lower your impact on the environment before telling your audience what a green brand you are. Only once you achieve to become a sustainable brand, you can use your efforts in your marketing strategy to attract customers.
Otherwise, you will just fall into the pit of those companies that use greenwashing to have their names associated with sustainable initiatives. And, if your business didn’t already lose all its customers, it will once they found out that you have conveyed a false impression about how your brand is an environmentally friendly one. It isn’t long since the 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal, so you may already know how tremendous the consequences of greenwashing can be for a company.
Businesses are going green
The trend of sustainability seems to be deeply rooted in the business landscape. Not only that already well-established businesses are going green but also first-time entrepreneurs build their companies focused on protecting our planet.
Reputable companies such as H&M, Nike, Ikea, HP, and Zara are only a few of the major names on the list of brands that made huge efforts over the last several years to become greener. For example, H&M, a brand that used to have a bad reputation for its damaging practices, succeeded in completely changing the way it is perceived by consumers with its efforts to lower its impact on our environment. The company created the Conscious collection that contains clothing and accessories made mainly of recycled materials. Nike and Adidas also succeeded to join the sustainable business game after pledging to use only recycled plastic by 2024.
Yet, apart from the well-established brands and the newcomers on the market, governments around the world also make efforts to support businesses in becoming more sustainable. For example, in Belgium, the government created a project with a total funding worth over €12,000,000 to help startups, especially in the private sector, to take sustainable development. And, according to a study containing data about 293 Belgian enterprises, almost 9 out of 10 of the companies claim to pay attention to sustainability in the way they do business.
So, the efforts to create a sustainable business landscape seem to start to pay off. Today, businesses in Belgium take all kinds of initiatives from sticking to reusable materials to going paperless, improving their waste management with machines like baling presses, called a ‘balenpers’ in Belgium.
So, it isn’t just customers who want more environmentally-friendly products or services but also companies and governments working together to create a more sustainable business landscape.
“Sustainability” seems to be the buzz word in 2020 both among customers and companies. And, it comes as no surprise since going green brings benefits to everyone. While consumers get healthier products, companies continue to make profits. Yet, most importantly, our planet suffers less from corporate pollution.