The push for sustainability is more than just a fad. Companies of all sizes and types are grappling with how to be sustainable while maintaining quality standards and meeting customer needs. Being sustainable has become one of those customer needs -- a basic expectation.
Examples of sustainable initiatives and messaging around them pop up in our feeds daily, such as “green” initiatives like moves to green energy, reducing carbon emissions and eliminating plastics, as well as corporate donations made to environmental causes. Innovative business models, such as car and clothes rentals, are also emerging as market disruptors that prioritize sustainability. In addition, sustainable packaging is gaining traction, promoting reusable materials that can be repurposed or recycled, indicating a shift away from disposable products.
Why does this matter? Sustainability is impacting customer perceptions and decisions, and will continue to play a greater role in the future. Here are questions every company will have to answer:
The answers to these questions impact both the way your company is viewed by customers and prospects, and the decisions they make around your brand.
The market segment that values sustainability is growing. Here are five recommendations for companies to build a strong(er) sustainability strategy if prioritized by your business:
Consider where you emphasize sustainability in products and services: Develop products and services that are sustainable and communicate their benefits to customers. Use materials or design products that can be reused or recycled.
Actively communicate your sustainability efforts: Use your website, social media, and other marketing channels to inform customers about your sustainable practices and initiatives; leverage this to build brand loyalty and attract new customers who prioritize sustainability.
Embed sustainability into your corporate culture: Sustainability can be a core value, integrated into all aspects of your business, including operations, procurement, and employee training. This can transform it into a priority throughout your organization.
Collaborate with other organizations: Learn from others, share best practices, and build stronger sustainability initiatives. Consider joining industry groups, participating in sustainability conferences, or partnering with other companies to develop programs.
Consider the financial implications of sustainability: Look beyond the initial investment to the longer-term benefits, such as cost savings from reducing waste or energy consumption.
"Sustainability can be a core value, integrated into all aspects of your business, including operations, procurement, and employee training."
With all due respect, this is a misnomer. True sustainability HAS to be a core value and incorporated in all aspects of any organization for it to succeed, driven by a commitment from everyone on staff, but most importantly, from the gilded C-level offices, including from the big boss man/woman/bot. Without an all-of-the-above effort, it's just talk and hollow marketing and will never be fully successful. And your consumers are sophisticated enough and smart enough to know the difference.