Remember when you were young, and your mom told you not to brag? Well, it’s time to ignore her advice (sorry mom!). The point is, what is the point of checking all of the sustainability boxes—waste, energy, carbon reductions, trusted certifications that speak to whom you are as a company, charitable giving to great cause partners, setting goals for future social and environmental progress—if no one knows your company is doing it? It is safe to say that while boasting of one’s accomplishments does not reflect well on the individual, the same cannot be said of corporations. Employees and consumers are increasingly seeking out purpose-driven companies to work for and sustainable products to buy. According to a 2019 report by NYU Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business, products “marketed as sustainable are driving product and category growth:
Across all categories, delivered $113.9B in sales in 2018, +29% vs. 2013
Across all categories, account for 16.6% share of market ($), +14.3% in 2013
Overall, delivered 50.1% packaged goods market growth (2013-2018) despite representing only 16.6% of the category
Grew 5.6x faster than products not marketed as sustainable (5-yr CAGR)
The keyword to note in the above quote is “marketed.” These products are actively telling consumers something they want to hear. The same can be said for all of a company’s sustainability efforts. Consumers and employees are making decisions on whom to work for or what to buy based on their impression of a company’s commitment to sustainability. Sustainability storytelling is about transparency and authenticity. So how do you get the word out?
Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube—the options for digitally reaching your audiences are seemingly endless. We are not suggesting every other social media post should reference an aspect of your company’s sustainability initiatives, but a carefully curated balance of product or service-related information and purpose related information is essential to let your audience know what your company cares about. Having a dedicated page on your website that takes a deeper dive into your sustainability efforts—the what, how, and why—can supply that additional detail that drives consumer loyalty.
Annual Impact Report:
Many brands that make public commitments to sustainability initiatives publish an annual impact report. Companies use these reports as an opportunity to share, in detail, all of their social and environmental successes, highlight challenges and report on progress towards public or internal goals. They are typically heavy on stats (i.e. 25% reduction in carbon footprint of packaging, $500,000 given to clean water initiatives, 200,000 single-use plastic items eliminated) and give readers an inside look into a company’s sustainability work through compelling graphics and powerful quotes. Some certifications or legal structures require companies to create an annual benefit report in order to maintain certification or meet the requirements of their legal status.
Certifications and sustainability claims on products and packaging—B Corp, 1% for the Planet, non-GMO verified, Leaping Bunny, USDA organic, 100% post-consumer recycled plastic—are a quick way for consumers to know a company is committed to sustainable business practices without really knowing anything about a company.
Demonstrate Industry Leadership:
Building your reputation as an industry leader for your social or environmental efforts can open a lot of doors. Speaking at conferences, participating in or leading industry workgroups or being an active participant in community business associations will allow you to share your company’s commitment to sustainability with different audiences than your traditional communication channels reach.
PPS guides our clients’ Purpose and Sustainability storytelling. From drafting creative content for packaging, blogs, newsletters, articles, and press releases to preparing presentations and impact reports, PPS helps clients raise awareness of their sustainability efforts by creating educational, inspiring and impactful content. Let us help you reach new audiences with impactful, authentic storytelling.
Our team at Planet+Purpose Solutions is dedicated to helping organizations launch their sustainability initiatives and coaching leaders into becoming champions of change. We all need to work together to tackle our collective environmental impact and our team hopes this series of articles will help with those first critical steps of your organization’s journey.