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How to do sustainability right

With the rising awareness among the population about the impact humans have on the planet, regarding the depletion of natural resources, plastic in the ocean, carbon dioxide in the air and the endangering of species, consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with their own environmental footprint.

More and more they are considering the sustainability of their purchases and the impact that businesses have. Brands that engage in eco-friendly practices are better valued, and there is even some evidence to suggest environmentally ethical retailers outperform their non-ethical counterparts.

This has led to firms seemingly ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ and making sure they have something to say when it comes to defending the sustainability of their practices. For example, by labelling their goods as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ or charging for plastic bags. But to what extent does this green behaviour by brands lead to favourable brand perceptions?

Recently, the term ‘Greenwashing’ has been used to refer to the practice of making misleading claims about the environmental benefits of a product or company practice. Unfortunately, this has led to ‘Green Scepticism’ among consumers who have learned to view green efforts and messages by brands as marketing buzzwords.

At Emotional Logic we examined the effect on purchase intention of using claims on food packaging. Our research suggests that only 15% of consumers would be persuaded to buy food labelled as ‘Organic’ based on this claim, similarly only 20% would buy food labelled as ‘Natural’. Therefore, brands have to do more to convince their customers of their ethical sourcing.

It seems that consumers can tell the difference between a firm engaging in environmental Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to ‘tick a box’ or look a certain way, and firms who genuinely care about the responsibility they have to save the environment. Therefore, CSR practices should be carefully considered to reflect a set of genuine company values.

Psychological research suggests that consumers feel most positively about firms whose sustainability causes involve them. For example, those hosting come-along beach cleans. This is because they get to personally experience the practice and witness benefits hands-on, they can then associate those positive feelings with the brand.

Our specialist techniques can help you unearth what really matters to consumers and how to align your brand values with theirs – to find out more contact us today.

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