But what makes a brand sustainable? Following the definition of sustainable development, it’s about having People, Planet and Profit perfectly aligned and equally balanced in the business strategy. As it often happens though, if there’s an opportunity to win new markets there is a company ready to take an unfair advantage. In fact, some companies, leveraging on aspects such as consumers naivety and lack of supply chain transparency, are misusing these values to attract consumers. In this article, we’ll look at some of the most used, and unfair, marketing strategies to help recognise a transparent communication and the real commitment of brands.
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Millennials Generation only in the US reaches $2.45 trillion in spending power, representing today the world most important consumer segment.
Roughly 70% of millennial consumers spend more on brands that support a cause they care about. These consumers today want more. They want to be actively involved in the global transition towards a better planet. They want their actions to have positive consequences; and support companies – big, small, and in between – that demonstrate a strong ethical commitment to take care of the planet and its people.
With a global increasing awareness on Environmental Issues, Millennials and Gen Z ask for more transparency and are eager to support brands that share a real environmental commitment. This growing green demand has inevitably started a race between corporates, small businesses and startups to make the most appealing products for this new conscious market segment. That’s where marketing comes into play: the business card for any brand and the instrument to sell more than other competitors.
In 1920 Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud’s nephew and inventor of the public relations, said: “We are governed, our minds are moulded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of“.
Nowadays, consumers - especially native digital generations - are overwhelmed by marketing promotions. All brands are fighting in the same competitive arena, trying to constantly evolve their marketing strategies to maintain long-lasting and ever-present relationships with their audience.
With sustainability becoming a trend, marketing strategists have been on fire providing consumers with the Greenest brands possible, forging what is now known as green marketing.
“Green marketing is the practice of giving a product or service a sustainable dress; making it more appealing to conscious consumer by promoting the sustainability efforts that the company claim to put in place.”
On the other side, when these claims aren’t backed with a real commitment and effort in making a product sustainable, companies fall into the unethical practice of Greenwashing. Since Greenwashing is not regulated by the law and the concept of sustainability is subject to interpretation, a growing number of companies (not always voluntarily we must say) slip into it. Here we report some of the most common examples of marketing campaigns that may hide some fresh greenwashing:
Greenwashing then, is basically lying to people. An alarming issue and a failing strategy recognizable with the right tools: appropriate knowledge.
In order to help you being more aware of what you’re buying, we listed some keywords that may be useful when you come across them in your search:
Becoming truly sustainable can be a quest for many companies and each milestone achieved along this journey is something to be proud of. That means that you will be likely to find thoroughly-described information about R&D’s commitments or the roadmap towards sustainable goals on the companies’ website and not just a nice claim on their sustainability page. Investigating through the company website looking for details can always help you get a better understanding of their true level of commitment.
An environmental claim, not backed by easily accessible information or by a reliable third-party certification, is a potential greenwashing attempt.
Take for examples facial tissues or toilet tissue labels that claim various percentages of post-consumer recycled content without providing evidence.
Behind a sustainable product, there is a person, or a team with a great story made of passion, commitment and heritage.
Take your time to get some information about the brand’s commitment to promoting sustainability. Most of the time, entrepreneurs envision a big picture and invest their life into a project. By learning a bit more about the stories that moved ‘the passion behind the product’, you can understand more about the company mission, their ultimate vision and the inner motivation that brought the brand to develop a sustainable products.
Launching and running social-environmental businesses is a vocation: it means thinking about the planet first, and profits then. Being a sustainable brand means to have sustainability at the core of the company DNA and marketing claims are just not enough to back up such a responsibility.
It often starts with great stories of passion-driven people recounting their personal experience. Stories who can’t be replaced by fancy and standards environmental-friendly claims. When it’s only marketing, you’ll easily understand it.
Do you want to spot with us the real sustainability commitment of brands you are interested in?
Get in touch, we’ll be happy to help!LET'S DEFEAT GREENWASHING!