A traditional answer to why customers should purchase your products and services focus on the features that differentiate them. But today’s consumers are making decisions based on more than just functionality or customer experience; they’re also considering a brand’s social and environmental impact.
71% of consumers would pay more for sustainable brands, and 57% of consumers would change their shopping habits to reduce their environmental footprint (source: IBM).
The numbers show that today’s consumers have high expectations when it comes to sustainability. According to market research giant Kantar, 65% of Australians think climate change is more critical now, or just as critical, than ever before; and Kantar’s Better Futures report (NZ), which provides key insights into consumer perspectives on sustainability, confirms a strong consumer focus on the impact of climate change. The report sends a clear call for significant lifestyle changes to avoid the increase in global temperature of more than 1.5℃, noting that 86% of people think we can do more. It also highlights that a lack of messaging clarity from businesses contributes to a cycle of inaction.
In addition, when deciding which brand to favour, 28% of consumers will consider how a company treats its people/employees; while 20% rate how a company treats the environment as a top consideration (source: Deloitte).
Consumers are seeking leadership around sustainability from brands and businesses, and now is the time to capitalise on meeting those expectations.
Now that you know it’s possible to attract more customers by becoming a more eco-friendly business, how do you go about sharing your efforts with the market?
As a business owner, one of the best things you can do for your business is to talk about what you're doing when it comes to sustainability, as well as what more can be done.
The easiest first step you can take to let your customers know you care about the planet is to include your approach to sustainable business on your website and social channels. Include this as a regular topic in your marketing, presentations and your “elevator speech”. Talk about things that you're already doing and any goals you have to keep improving. That way, consumers will know it's important to your brand and that you're actively working on it.
Another credible way to communicate your approach to sustainability is to gain certification. As it becomes increasingly competitive to retain customer loyalty, trust is the new currency, and certification is the proof. Certification lets customers know that you’re not just about intent, but about action. It’s powerful because it recognises that a business is meeting high standards of social and environmental performance.
There are a lot of certifications out there, ranging from verifying your positive impact on climate, waste, community and land and water. The important thing is to identify what matters most to your business and then take measurable actions that can be verified by one of these accreditation bodies. BCorp is one of the most recognised and popular accreditations. If accreditation across all aspects of your business operations sounds intimidating, consider starting small by getting just one aspect of your operation certified.
Some of the ways you can share your accreditations with existing and potential customers include:
One of the most encouraging aspects of change is that it’s often highly contagious and can inspire others to change for the better. Of course, when it comes to sustainability, we want as many people and businesses to be thinking about small changes they could make, as this combined effort can have a massive positive impact. Discussing climate change and the changes you’re making within your business and why can create a ripple; that creates a wave; that creates a tsunami of change.
According to the Journal of Economic Geography, solar panels spread in ripples: one household’s decision will influence the neighbours to do the same. They found that there was a “considerable clustering of adoptions” of solar panels in residential areas. “This clustering didn’t follow the distribution of income or population, and smaller centres contributed to adoption more than larger urban areas, in a wave-like centrifugal pattern.” In this case, small action = big influence!
If you order the vegan option in a restaurant, your colleagues may follow suit. Supermarkets, schools, and employers quite often respond to our signals. There is power in collective conscious consumerism.
Today’s consumers want to buy from sustainable businesses, and communicating your approach to sustainability could be the key to retaining existing customers and attracting new ones. People are interested in what steps businesses are taking to enhance the value of their products and services, so tell them!
We're working on making accreditation simple for businesses. Make sure you sign up to be the first to know once we launch!