Marta Peral Ribeiro
– Communication Consultant –
Being at the top of consumer priorities, sustainability is one of the biggest investments companies can make if they want to get more customers – and improve the world, of course.
A European study conducted in 2019 by Oney and Opinion Way indicates that 85% of the Portuguese are concerned about sustainable consumption (of which 60% are women).
The increase in searches for “sustainable brands” in Google Trends over the past few years confirm this:
What is Green Marketing?
Green marketing, ecological marketing, eco-marketing, sustainable marketing, environmental marketing… are all designations for the same concept: marketing focused on sustainability.
It may refer to the sustainability of products, services or simply to an attitude (of an entity/brand).
How we got to environmental marketing
Never has the impact of climate change, plastics in the oceans, deforestation, pollution, or the scarcity of natural resources been so evident in our lives.
With the awareness of the state of the world, we have also changed our consumption patterns.
We have realized that we must change something: what concrete actions can we adopt? What products can we consume that do not damage the carbon footprint? Which brands do I choose to support because they are investing in this?
Consequently, brands began to be pressured to change as well. Hence marketing, it was a step.
In addition to directly benefiting the planet we live on; green marketing brings other advantages:
- Any consumer sympathizes with a brand that cares about the planet – consequently, with people.
- Attracts investors for the same reason.
- An eco-friendly posture contributes to the image, reputation, dissemination and sale of products and services.
- In the medium and long term, it will bring profit to the business.
- It’s one of the big global marketing trends, so investing in this is getting one step ahead.
What do consumers expect from brands?
1. Sustainable products (for the wallet too)
When purchasing a product, these are weighting factors:
- The price of the product
- The impact on health
- The durability of the product
- If it is a local product
- If it is recycled and/or recyclable
- If it comes from fair trade
- The reputation of the brand
Knowing that 58% of Portuguese doubt that brands meet sustainability commitments reveals that companies need to review their transparency parameters.
Ecology begins within the company
- What sustainable measures has the company implemented in the workplace?
- Do team members share an eco-friendly attitude?
- How can business activities reduce environmental impact?
- Do suppliers trade fairly and use environmentally friendly means to transport their products?
Share the evolution made
As the company acts in favor of the environment, it must reveal the results obtained so that consumers can see the transformation.
The current consumer wants to see concrete actions, which prove that brands actively defend the causes they promote (as mentioned in the previous point). For example:
- Programs that consistently support an environmental cause.
- Initiatives that promote good consumer practices (e.g. beverage refill solutions; exchange campaigns for a product used for discount on a new product, second-hand stores, etc.)
- Support for the development of environmental study centers.
- Collaborations with entities driven by the same purpose.
Even if you want to contribute in the best way to the environment, consumers don’t always know what to do or where to start. You are interested in:
- Information about products and services, know the process of the product, including its degree of sustainability
- Practical guidance to help you make daily decisions to create less environmental impact (e.g. how to reduce food wastage).
- Information on current and long-term brand environmental policies.
- Tools to enable them to check their own ecological developments.
The magic formula of environmental marketing
It is not enough to be sustainable: one must tell the world
If there are companies that communicate effusively the measures they are implementing around the environment, others need to develop their communication strategy so that consumers know the progress they make. In other words, they have to know how to disclose this information.
However, in order for the communication to be effective, it is necessary to know the market segment to which it is addressed, of course.
Once you identify your target audience, you will need to adjust the tone of the message, because the interest in sustainability is not transversal to all. Not even the attitude. Therefore, the contents will be different.
One of the questions to ask is: which communication channels will you bet on?
Social networks: a fertile soil
Digital platforms – and in particular social networks – are the starting point for discovering new products, information about brands and what others say about them, as well as conveying changes of opinion (and even awareness).
But what exactly do consumers want to see on social media?
Creativity and practical information
Consumers want realistic ideas and suggestions on sustainable lifestyle to integrate sustainability into their daily lives.
How: informative videos, infographics, posts with questions and answers.
Knowing the history of a product or service (or even an action) greatly influences a user’s perception. Once you know the process, your idea of it can change and lead to changes in habits (including consumption).
How to: visually rich content, blog articles that develop the narrative about a product.
As a rule, a brand that has a sustainable attitude cares a lot about its reputation, reiterating its values firmly, because it reflects its culture.
And how do we form an opinion about a brand? From what we know of it, what we hear about it, the credibility we recognize and of course, the image that the brand conveys.
In turn, a good reputation can cause consumers to rely again on a brand, especially through reviews from other customers.
How: surveys, infographics, incentive to reviews.
Developing a good relationship with users is greatly beneficial for the company, thus gets closer to the audience and provokes social dialogue, in addition to increasing the likelihood of conversion.
- User-produced content
User Generated Content (UGC) is, as we have mentioned in other articles, one of the most effective strategies for influencing other users. Includes product or brand reviews.
How: challenges of hashtags, videos, or images.
Communities connect people who share the same ideas and concerns, encouraging them to take a more active role and participate in change.
How: lives with a deeper field of questions and answers, podcasts with professionals knowledgeable of a certain environmental field, interviews with personalities related to sustainability.
Ease of access to products
Social networks themselves are developing tools that improve the customer experience, allowing sales from the brand’s own page. Therefore, the company must streamline the e-commerce process within its platforms, so that the user can easily purchase the products.
What we can learn from…
Ben & Jerry’s
The ice cream brand known for its fair-trade ingredients develops a communication that brings the consumer closer. How?
- Sharing your story and evolution through creative visual content.
- Developing a good relationship with your followers, involving them in your narrative.
- Promoting campaigns consistent with your mission.
Ver essa foto no Instagram
The furniture giant known to all families reveals on its digital platforms the steps it takes to make the world a better place. How:
- Optimizing the resources in the manufacture of their articles.
- Implementing circular economy solutions that promote the durability of products, such as furniture recovery systems, in which used, or exhibition furniture are resold at a reduced price in the Opportunities section.
The Portugal Manual network is a platform that projects small contemporary Portuguese artisans in brazil and abroad, with sustainable consumption as its premise. How?
- Through the storytelling: we know who the ceramists, the designers and other artists are behind the brands, how they make their products and what they are made of.
- Promoting local and fair commerce: with visually appealing content and interviews on the blog.
- Facilitating the user experience, so you can buy a product with one click that you otherwise would hardly have access to because it is not in any store.