As businesses, we all know how important it is to be eco-friendly. So why are some brands putting in the sustainable work, but neglecting to tell their customers just how green they are? Despite recent research showing that strong sustainability commitments would lead over a quarter of Brits to opt for one brand over another, four-out-of-five retailers failed to provide any sustainability information in their communication with customers.*
IF YOUR BUSINESS IS ONE OF THEM, HOW CAN YOU GO ABOUT CLOSING THIS GAP FOR GOOD?
Savvy consumers quickly grew wise to greenwashing and now expect organisations to verify their claims of sustainability. So how should you communicate your brand’s eco-credentials the right way?
HERE ARE OUR THREE TOP TIPS:
1. Start with the data
Disclose your current environmental footprint in an annually updated ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) report. Commit to making your business more sustainable, and outline your ESG targets and the precise details of how you’re going to reach them. Then report regularly on these targets, at least yearly but potentially even quarterly.
If you’re struggling to identify the best targets, analyse which are the biggest areas of improvement for your organisation. It might be to make your logistics, operations and last-mile greener, reducing emissions throughout the process. It might to use more renewable energy in your buildings or alternative fuels in your vehicles. Or to cut out single-use plastics from your products and reduce the amount of packaging.
Whatever your areas of focus, make sure to detail your current state and desired end state in your ESG reports.
2. Actions speak louder than words
It’s important to deliver on your targets with tangible actions, including making changes and undertaking initiatives. It’s okay not to get it right first time or to know where to begin: the secret is to partner with others who can show you the way, particularly companies who are sustainable leaders in their fields.
This is especially true for areas which are typically outside of your direct control, like your forward and reverse supply chain. Partnering with eco-friendly suppliers gives you the opportunity to share and benefit from their initiatives without having to overhaul your own processes. And it’s a great way to start seeing action within the first 6-12 months of your plan.
3. Tell a story
To combat greenwashing, authenticity is key. Tell your customers why you really care about the environment. Perhaps it can tie into your brand’s purpose, values or history. Take Innocent, the leading fruit smoothies company. Their ‘Big Rewild’ campaign is based around giving back to nature, supporting local orchard projects and protecting global forests. It ties in nicely with the fact their products use the bounties of nature, so it feels authentic to the consumer.
Or Lush Cosmetics, who position their care for the planet alongside their long-standing fight against animal testing. It’s a stance they are widely known for, and have lobbied against in the media for years, so consumers believe that they genuinely care about the environment.
Though you don’t have to start picking up placards, examining your company values and why you do what you do is a great place to start. Then try communicating this story with your audience on social media.
GREEN SPOTLIGHT: H&M
H&M is a global apparel brand with a target to use 100% recycled materials in its products by 2030.** To do this, the brand is focusing on embedding circularity into the design process. Its world-first ‘Green Machine’ technology recycles cotton and polyester blends, separating blended textiles at scale without any quality loss.
Alongside this, in 2021 H&M launched a ‘Role Models’ campaign with a video that features interviews with children – the role models of tomorrow – talking about the change they want to see in the environment and the steps they themselves are taking. The campaign strapline reads: “the future belongs to those who live in it.” This powerful message aligns perfectly with the work H&M are doing in the space, and the impactful execution that focuses less on the brand itself and more on the meaning of their work creates a feeling of authenticity.
Consumers love companies that care, and demonstrating your commitment to ESG is simple if you prioritise authentic communication, backed up by the right data and tangible targets in areas like supply chain and logistics.
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