As the market for eco-friendly and sustainable consumer goods grows and marketing campaigns emblazoned with environmentally conscious messages begin to reign mainstream advertising, what once appealed to customers may have aged into a model of the past. Actively engaging with the climate crisis of the 21st century and shaping the mammoth-sized issue into a smaller, more relatable problem which can be tackled through smaller acts of kindness to the planet has transformed into a marketable theme.
By weaving your ethical and moral stance into your marketing, you can attract customers, transforming this into a selling point. By aligning your marketing strategy to match this theme, you can do more by emotionally connecting with prospective buyers which not only secures the sale but also wins customer loyalty, converting them into returning customers.
Drumming into moral consciousness
Taking an emotive approach to environmentally friendly purchasing can generate self-satisfaction for the customer, adding emotive and moral value. Recent developments in the banking sector have resulted in banks pledging to contribute more to the climate crisis by cutting off investment to fossil fuel companies and halting funding to businesses without a climate change plan in place. This adds an ethical dimension to business banking, underlining the urgency of the climate crisis.
Taking a behind-the-scenes approach
Opening the door into your production process offers transparency into the business, which is an effective move in an era where businesses are often put under the spotlight for the use of unfair practices. Transparency helps the customer confidently make a purchase without any doubts surrounding the origins of the product.
Ethical Consumer is a not-for-profit organisation which raises awareness of injustices in the consumer world. Current boycotts to businesses holding a poor environmental record include:
Yo Sushi – Bluefin Tuna, an endangered species that is soon to be extinct continues to be used across restaurants in the UK, including Yo Sushi.
BP – The oil and gas multinational company are partially responsible for a major oil spill that took place in the Gulf of Mexico ten years ago. The environmental disaster led to momentous damage to the ocean floor, drastically affecting aquatic life.
EDF Energy – The energy company which is responsible for 50 nuclear reactors across the UK and France is increasing the number of nuclear power stations in the UK, discouraging the shift to renewable energy, such as solar or hydropower.
The revolutionary organisation opens the eyes of consumers to ethical buying, questioning mainstream businesses in the UK, ranking them by their ‘ethiscore’ and impact on the environment. This adds additional emotive and ethical value to businesses, other than just monetary.
Transparency in terms of corporate ethics can refer to numerous factors in addition to climate control. This concerns the likes of fraud, fixing, manipulation, corruption, equal pay and workforce diversity in relation to gender, religion, sexual orientation, and age. Corporate social responsibility is also a determining factor, such as involvement in the local community and ties to charitable organisations.
Promoting eco-friendly appeal through newsworthy tie-ins
If your eco-friendly initiative is newsworthy, this gives you a strong media standing and a pedestal to stand upon which can help promote your brand and strengthen its reputation. Current brands capitalising from ethical initiatives include Greggs. Greggs launched its new creation – a vegan steak bake, in conjunction with Veganuary, an organisation promoting the vegan lifestyle, urging members of the public to test try it for January.
The month of January provided an ideal in-road for UK’s biggest bakery chain to launch its new vegan creation. As the media agenda for the month of January focused heavily on veganism, Greggs used this as their entrance by giving the public a taste of their innovative product, a twist on the traditional steak bake, branding it the ‘fake steak bake’. Research carried out by Veganuary found that more than 200 new vegan products were collectively introduced by brands in January 2019.
This follows suit to a similar initiative established by smart energy system providers, Nest and Hive through which you can conveniently control your heating and hot water through an app, reducing unnecessary use and in turn, protecting the environment. By aligning your business with these initiatives, you can take advantage of the media chatter around the topic, earning you a reputable standing.
Establishing your eco-friendly initiative
By earning accreditation to show your understanding of leading an eco-friendly business, you can show official acknowledgment of your efforts. For example, the Green Mark or Investors in the Environment accreditation is an internationally recognised organisation assessing environmental sustainability, checking that businesses comply with environmental legislation. Your environmental efforts can set you apart from competitors, making customers feel emotionally attached to your brand. In addition to giving customers a reason to purchase from you, this could also reduce operational costs, such as energy bills.
Environmental corporate social responsibility
As many businesses enthusiastically give back to their local community as part of their corporate social responsibility strategy, this provides an ideal opportunity to raise awareness of the climate crisis and make a difference. This not only helps you share knowledge but contributes towards building your brand and humanising your business.
In addition to involving yourself in the community, you can hold a charitable event in aid of a dedicated climate change organisation or even pledge to donate a percentage of your turnover to raise awareness of the charity. Environmental corporate social responsibility can provide more opportunities for your business and separate you from other businesses operating in your marketplace, enhancing your appeal.
Implement environmentally friendly initiatives internally
By reducing damage to the environment, you can also streamline the costs incurred to your business through the implementation of energy-saving measures. This can include the likes of rolling out paperless marketing, a companywide plastic ban, possible relocation outside the city and the general encouragement of green thinking and enforcing an environmentally conscious work culture. By enforcing a strategy as such in-house, employees can have a first-hand experience of the initiative, helping them understand customers looking to move towards a service which is more environmentally orientated.
Operating in a transparent manner shows sincerity, elevating the value of your product, however, it’s vital to strike a reasonable balance between pushing your product and the associated environmental beliefs, ensuring that your marketing strategy doesn’t borderline political or lose focus. By integrating an awareness of climate change in your marketing strategy, you can attract a wave of new customers, working hand in hand to make a change.
About the Author
John Baird is an experienced personal debt advisor, specialising in debt solutions in Scotland, insolvency and corporate recovery. He previously worked at one of the Big Four accounting firms and has a wealth of experience under his belt, later joining business recovery heavyweight, Begbies Traynor Group in 2004.