Renewable, ethical, sustainable. Brands are under increasing pressure to be – and be seen as – champions of the natural world. The question of how to do sustainability well will no doubt be niggling a great many marketers in 2020.
At Brilliant Noise we know the value of great storytelling. It’s what we do. Many global brands are keen to apply sustainable practices throughout their operations. So, we’re taking a closer look at the truly innovative vs. the greenwashers. And those who could be telling their sustainability stories more effectively.
This week we went to the Natural & Sustainable Consumer Trends Conference and heard how FMCG and CPG brands are tackling key sustainability challenges. There was much discussion about sourcing, packaging and supply chain – the fundamentals of a truly sustainable business. We were keen to hear whether these initiatives were reaching consumers and connecting with them.
Hearing a few expert accounts, the weak link in the sustainable supply chain lies with packaging manufacturers. New packaging solutions need new technology, and in many cases this is where sustainable initiatives stall. It’s a costly challenge for long-established suppliers to invest in R&D, update systems, machinery and manufacturing facilities. However, these brands can’t afford to be complacent – there’s an army of packaging disruptors waiting to take up the slack. Start-ups like Notpla with their biodegradable ketchup sachets (made from seaweed) are cleaning up, while traditional packaging manufacturers dither. The options? Adapt or die.
Smart brands are putting consumer insights at the heart of their sustainability strategies. Understanding how consumers think and what’s important to them is the first step. Yet are consumers really ready to change their behaviour and make more environmentally positive buying decisions? Or is there a lingering incongruence between sentiment and behaviour?
Charlotte Morley founded the reusable children’s clothing start-up Little Loop. Her goal is to make the second-hand market glamorous, appealing and available. She believes the triggers for positive sustainable behaviour are ease, time, affordability and education. People are busy, and inevitably they’ll choose convenience and simplicity with a price tag that fits. This is echoed by Rachel Parsonage, co-founder of haircare brand Noughty, whose consumer research shows that customers prioritise quality and performance, cost; and whether products are natural, organic and cruelty-free.
Several times throughout the conference we heard that the magic ingredient in sustainable success is authenticity. Rachel described the importance of storytelling and sharing your journey with your customers.
The key to doing sustainability well is to bake it into company operations and culture. Make it integral, Make it part of your DNA. And keep it authentic in a world tired of greenwashing. This was best articulated by Heather Ducharme from The Body Shop in her summary: “Sustainability is the Food Safety of the 21st century. It shouldn’t be a selling point, it should be best practice. Don’t make sustainability the reason to buy – but do it anyway.”
This is the essence of the Brilliant Noise approach: all marketing must be inspired by consumer insights and authenticity is everything.
Follow these principles to tell your sustainability stories and create like you give a damn:
- Know your voice – tell authentic stories to educate and inspire your audience.
- Put human stories at the heart – focus on people, and give others a voice.
- Create content people want – it’s all about data-led content that’s relentlessly consumer first.
- Make less but better – effective and efficient storytelling is better for the planet.
- Show, don’t tell – don’t just preach, show what you’re doing.