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Selling Sustainability

Effectively Communicating your Green Targets and Achievements

Sustainability Matters
You’re spending time and money ensuring that your product supply chain are sustainable.
You’re maybe spending more money with dependence to a ‘green’ logistics partner who manages and reports on your sustainability targets.
But What Does Green Mean?
Problem is, while businesses are keen to promote their own comittment to products and supply chains that put sustainability at the heart of what they do, many don’t communicate their approach and results effectively.
It’s because brands are relatively new to sustainability metrics and data analysis, and because logistics partners don’t communicate metrics in ways that brands or consumers understand.
Customers Care
Around 81% of consumers state a preference for sustainable sellers. And they expect brands to pay more than lip service to their sustainability strategies and outcomes.
But while some thriving companies are both breathing and talking their sustainability mandate, many others – despite their best intentions – aren’t getting the right mileage from their green mandate in terms of customer engagement.
Of course, the language of sustainability is complex and hard to turn into a message that isn’t opaque or cliches-ridden.
And many businesses’ inability to master the lexicon relates to their view that sustainability is additional, and not intergral, to the language that sells their product.
Insmuch, sustainability gets ‘added on’ – promoted but not fully intergrated to the extent that brands think more about how they are – and not just how they do – sustainability
So how can brands better communicate their own sustainability efforts and successes in ways that resonate with customers and – ultimately – entice them to come and stay?
1. Demand the Data
Regardless of your business, communicating sustainability must begin with the data.
If this is handled through a logistics partner, then their business with you must include regular reports on [for example] carbon emission metrics, tracking and optimizing of their vehicle fill rates, strategies to improve their sustainability efforts and – most importantly – helping you effectively communicate these positives to customers, especially as they relate to last-mile delivery.
2. Use the Golden ‘Retention Rules’
It’s astounding that despite shifts in eCommerce and consumer behaviour that have led to highly nuanced approaches to customer experience and retention, many businesses’ sustainability efforts are pitched to customers in a language that is neither convincing or enticing.
Do your customers want data collated bar charts on carbon footprint reduction? Or do they want a cartoon picture of your green truck passing a diesel competitor?
You know your customers. You know what they want via zero and first party data. So paint the picture they want to loom at.
3. Sell the Cake
Too many brands lead with sustainability, but if your product is great and you’re sustainable, then you’re ultimately promoting both by leading with product.
Customers want to consume something. If they’re hungry then an organic cake is great. But what they’re really dying for is a cake. Organic tips the scales toward your cake.
4. Offer Practical Solutions to Actual Problems
Show customers exactly what problem you’re solving: recycled wood reduces deforestation by 12%; organic fertilizers enable 55% more arable land re-use per year, decreasing deforestation in Brazil by 30%.
And as much as possible, appeal even more to your demographic by stating the benfits for them where they live. This can still be generic: reductions in their weekly waste, cleaner air in their parks and school areas, or a non-chemical solution for their skin rash.
5. Reward
Body Shop got the ball rolling with rewards points that can be traded for charity donations. It’s a little utilized sustainability nugget – why not offer rewards points that give consumers the opportunity to donate to eco-friendly charities of their choice?
Better yet, reward them via the simple act of buying your product, because 5% of their purchase is donated to a tree planting charity or inner-city clean air initiative.
For those with the additional resources and reach, community-building can incorporate ‘green’ events that utilize eco-friendly spaces and activities.
But a simple number value on purchases that goes toward a tangible and sustainable good is more valuable to customers than a paragraph of eco-spiel.
6. Don’t Just Do It, Be It
Sustainability is a relatively new language in business. But its not that difficult to learn and to translate into meaningful discourse with your customers. Start with an understanding of exactly how and where you are sustainable, and embody that as an intrinsic part of – not an addition to – your brand identity.
Then communicate with your customers in ways they want to be talked to, about things they know and love, and how your sustainability efforts consolidate these. And prove it by offering CR initiatives that are sustainability driven.
Piece of cake. Chocolate. Organic.

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