Your Brand's Sustainability Story Can Build Trust – Adweek

By Alexis Simonetti, Senior Brand Content Manager
Consumers hear about sustainability in their daily lives now more than ever, whether it’s in their favorite TV shows, on the daily news, through their favorite brands, or their friendly grocer asking, “paper today?”
Sustainability isn’t a new concept, awareness of it has been steadily increasing over the years—and what was once thought of as inconvenient, yet necessary, adjustments to everyday life has become a social movement of lifestyle reconstruction.
According to recent research commissioned by Amazon Ads with Environics Research in the “Higher Impact 2022″ report over the past three years sustainability has become more important for around six in 10 U.S. consumer respondents. This increase in importance has not only become a focal point in society but has heavily influenced the buying habits of U.S. consumers, with 51% of respondents indicating that “sustainability factors a great extent into their purchasing behavior and lifestyle.”
Companies across the world, from retail to automotive, are banding together to address the issue of climate change. Stronger commitments to sustainability are taking center stage, like with The Climate Pledge that’s garnered over 300 signatories and is committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. These efforts further align with U.S. consumer sentiment, as more than half of respondents (57%) think it’s important that the companies and brands they purchase from are committed to sustainability.
Katie Decker, the global leader of essential health & sustainability at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, is in lock step with those consumer sentiments, stating: “Consumers are looking for brands that align with their values, so for consumer health brands today, embracing sustainability is a must—it’s what we call a ‘modern mandatory’ and essential to reflect our consumer values.”
Companies like Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health are doubling down on what this means for the future of healthcare and innovation. In 2020, the company launched its Healthy Lives Mission, an $800 million investment through 2030 to advance human health while protecting the environment. Decker is right on point, as 81% of the U.S. consumer respondents indicated they are “more likely to purchase products or services from brands whose values align with their own.”
In order to meet consumer expectations when it comes to sustainability, brands are expected to take action in ways that are measurable and transparent. More than half of the U.S. consumer respondents polled in the “Higher Impact 2022” report believe “the best way for brands to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability is through internal corporate policies and programs,” and companies like Lavazza have taken that step, one coffee bean at a time.
Lavazza’s global responsibility has centered around sustainable efforts since 1930, with Carlo Colpo, group marketing communication director and brand home director, stating, “Sustainability has been an integrated part of Lavazza’s business for many years. From sustainable packaging to reforestation projects, to community initiatives, to supporting farmers and the communities where they live and work, all of this is part of our Blend for Better strategy to create sustainable value for our shareholders, collaborators, consumers and the communities in which we operate, combining competitiveness with social and environmental responsibility, in line with our purpose ‘Awakening a better world every morning’. This means always ensuring that the products are of the finest quality, while maintaining independence and ethical standards, in order to retain a leading position in the global coffee market.”
Brand authenticity is when a brand lives its purpose out loud: putting out communications, taking actions and enabling experiences in the world that align with its purpose.
Danielle Gonzales, CEO, iProspect Americas
These demonstratable commitments by brands matter to consumers and help to build better trust and brand loyalty. Trustworthy sources of information around sustainability rank high on buyers’ minds, with over half of U.S. consumer respondents stating that they are “willing to pay more for a product that has a sustainability, third-party certification.”
Companies like Amazon recognize this importance—working with trusted third-party certifications and also creating its own certification, Compact by Design, to “highlight products that meet sustainability standards and help preserve the natural world” as part of its Climate Pledge Friendly program. Customers can now look for the Climate Pledge Friendly icon on the product details page when shopping online. As brands work to adapt and stay relevant, putting consumers and the interests that matter most to them first is key to building brand trust for generations to come.
Brands can meet this moment for their audiences not only by first and foremost taking action with internal policies around sustainability, but also by sharing their sustainability journeys across media outlets to show how change is possible. Nearly half of the polled U.S. consumer respondents believe “the best way for brands to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability is through external media, communications and advertising,” showcasing the opportunity to share their brand’s sustainable evolution to audiences across various media and advertising outlets.
By taking action and not just showing intent on sustainability, brands will showcase their authenticity, which can help earn consumer trust. Danielle Gonzales, CEO of iProspect Americas shares, “Brand authenticity is when a brand lives its purpose out loud: putting out communications, taking actions and enabling experiences in the world that align with its purpose. Authentic brands operate in a manner that is consistent with their true value proposition. Authentic brands do not go a step too far or over-project an attribute that is not factual or believable.”
Brands that lead with authenticity, making actionable and transparent commitments to sustainability, will be the ones that gain consumer trust and brand loyalty in the future.
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