Climate change, the extinction of entire species, and plastic-ridden oceans: when you consider the environmental threat we’re facing today, sustainable actions are called for now more than ever. Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword or tr...
Climate change, the extinction of entire species, and plastic-ridden oceans: when you consider the environmental threat we’re facing today, sustainable actions are called for now more than ever. Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword or trend for idealists. It is an issue that affects us all – brands included. In a recent study, around 70 percent of consumers in Germany said that they buy more environmentally friendly and sustainable products than they did five years ago. For companies, sustainability is therefore one thing above all: an enormous opportunity.
Corporate sustainability as a buying factor
Especially for younger generations, aspects like sustainability, environmental protection, and social commitment are decisive factors in the customer experience. After all, the eco and fair-trade boom is motivated by much more than merely lifestyle choices: its aim is to ensure a sustainable future for humanity. That’s why sustainability is being demanded more and more frequently by end consumers.
Doing business sustainably – but how?
Whether CO2-neutral delivery concepts, sustainable packaging material, or resource-saving and environmentally compatible products: due to the current shift in thinking toward greater sustainability, brands are finding themselves under the public’s watchful eye. They are not only expected to offer sustainable products and services, but also to do business responsibly on a more general level. As a result, brands are under increasing pressure to take action in order to make their company more sustainable.
The ESG criteria, which are used to evaluate the sustainability of certain business models and companies, offer an effective approach for this. They cover the following aspects:
Environment: Using natural resources respectfully, reducing emissions, ensuring climate protection, and increasing energy efficiency. Possible areas of implementation include logistics, packaging, and returns management.
Social: Respecting human rights, ensuring social standards, and being socially committed in the sense of corporate social responsibility.
Governance: Defining and following a code of conduct for compliance and transparent communication.
Showing a clear attitude pays off
Since the adoption of the German CSR Directive Implementation Act in 2017, capital-market-oriented companies with more than 500 employees have been required to produce a non-financial statement and assume social and ecological responsibility. Environmental aspects and respect for human rights are central to this.
But even brands that are not subject to this act are increasingly emphasizing their corporate social responsibility (CSR) – in other words, the specific commitment that they make to environmental protection as a brand. And for good reason, because green marketing offers a range of economic advantages:
Lower production costs as a result of resource-friendly manufacturing
Enhanced trust within the customer relationship
All just a front? Challenges in green marketing
For green marketing to work, you need something else on top of corporate social responsibility: green thinking. Ultimately, only when the environmental concerns are genuine, can green marketing optimize brand value on a long-lasting basis. Conveying this authenticity can be a real challenge at times in light of the many companies that primarily act in a financially driven way and are half-hearted when it comes to their sustainable marketing. All too often, green marketing is initially met with skepticism by customers. In part because there are still no internationally recognized CSR certificates that would attest to a company’s commitment. Patience is the key here. In the long term, companies that are authentic in their green marketing benefit from stronger, lasting customer retention and loyalty. Less credible brands, on the other hand, run the risk of damaging their image forever – especially when accusations of greenwashing grow louder.
Green marketing – communication is key
For green marketing strategies to be credible, corporate sustainability communication is extremely important – both externally and internally. Above all, transparency is crucial, since the target group of green marketing is highly critical. You need to put all your cards on the table if you want to prove your commitment to sustainability. After all, a company that has nothing to hide has no reason to hold back information and insights. By being open and not shying away from engaging in the dialogue, your brand will be optimally positioned for credibly presenting your own sustainability achievements and being successful when it comes to green marketing.
Responsibility as an opportunity
For brands that want to remain viable in the future, there is really no way around sustainability, since it is influencing people’s shopping behavior more and more. Utilize this shift in thinking for your business: by showing a clear attitude and doing business sustainably, not only are you doing something good for the environment, but you will also strengthen the relationship with your customers. For sustainability to lead to this double success, a suitable marketing concept is essential. Green marketing can only work when brands come across as authentic and transparent and their commitment is credible.
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