Nearly three-quarters of consumers believe that the private sector is failing to take care of the earth and society, according to the recently released UN Global Compact and Accenture study, "From Marketing to Mattering.” Surveying 30,000 consumers across 20 countries, the report reveals valuable insights for marketers regarding the impact of sustainability on a brand’s reputation, optimism and expectations on both government and the private sector.
What can businesses do to rebuild trust with their consumers?
1. Connect Sustainability to Health, Wealth and Livelihood
Despite the fact that more companies than ever are investing in sustainability initiatives, consumers are still skeptical that the private sector is making the world a better place. The report authors posit that this may be because companies are not making their sustainability initiatives relevant and impactful for their consumers. As a result, consumers are not feeling a connection to what companies are doing and its impact on their lives.
Rather, try developing sustainability messaging that demonstrates that a company’s sustainability initiatives are having a positive impact on their consumers’ lives. The report shows that an overwhelming majority – 81% – say that the ability of a product to improve health and wealth are an important factor in their decision to purchase a product. However, only 42% believe that companies are currently meeting that need. Thus, there is a tremendous opportunity for marketers to differentiate their products among consumers.
2. Develop Sustainability Initiatives that Will Improve Quality of Life
Consumers have high expectations for the private sector, expecting companies to ensure their quality of life to the same degree as government. Globally, 86% of consumers expect government to improve their quality of life and 85% of consumers believe that is true of businesses.
What does quality of life mean and how can a company address this? First, companies should ensure that they are creating jobs and economic growth for the communities they are working in. Second, address pollution (23% believe addressing pollution is an issue that companies should address). Fewer than a quarter (22%) believe that businesses should address clean energy.
3. Keep Investing in Moms
It’s been nearly 20 years since marketers identified “soccer moms” as a key demographic and they are still one of the most influential populations. Highly engaged on sustainability, 64% actively buy sustainable brands and 70% say they would buy more of a specific brand if they understood their positive impact. Moms are also very cause driven with 63% of mothers surveyed saying that they are motivated to purchase a product when it linked to taking park in a cause.
4. Understand Regional Differences
In the U.S., fewer than a quarter (21%) consider sustainability performance when selection products and services. Consumers in emerging markets are more engaged on sustainability and claim to actively look for information to validate companies’ claims: in India 48% consider sustainability performance, 46% in Brazil, 45% in China, 44% in Mexico. Fifty percent in India reported that they actively look for information on sustainability performance compared to 14% in the U.S.
In sum, while consumer trust in companies is low, there are several steps that a company can take to better understand their audiences. What are your thoughts? Let me know here and at @Brigid_Milligan.