Our greatest global challenge in the coming years will be how we respond to the climate emergency. Public consciousness is growing, and so is the social pressure for governments and organizations to make meaningful work towards sustainability.
The public expected more from the Glasgow Climate Summit (COP26) and now that it has passed, they are asking what more can be done to achieve a better future. So now more than ever, consumers are looking to brands to analyze their commitment to the planet.
Sustainability and Consumption
The public is better informed than ever about the purpose of brands and analyzes their messages, evaluates their behavior and rewards or punishes brands based on their environmental performance. Sustainability awareness is here to stay and will continue to grow in the future.
This consumer environmental activism represents an opportunity for brands. But how do we connect with these new and rapidly changing environmental sensitivities? What actions should we take at any given moment? What messages should we send out today to be in tune with this new generation of consumer activists? And tomorrow?
Five Ways Brands Are Enacting Sustainable Change
The more consumers act, the more brands are listening. Some have already taken the initiative to become drivers of change by moving towards a more sustainable future:
1. Zero Waste
Food waste — in a world where 800 million people go hungry — has a severe environmental impact, generating around 3.3 Gigatons of CO2 per year.
Companies like Unilever, through its Hellmann’s brand, have committed to the UN goal of achieving a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030. How? By promoting zero waste programs in landfills, collaborating with organizations to collect surplus from farms and committing to greater transparency by showing the waste footprint data of its products.
2. Circular Economy
Zara is making the effort to close the loop on its production process. The global retailer recycles 100% of the cardboard boxes that its suppliers send to stores to manufacture all of its online shipping boxes.
3. Sustainable Materials
Brands today are looking for a sustainable alternative to plastics. A brand like Signal already has bamboo brushes on supermarket shelves. Coca-Cola recently presented a prototype of what will be the first paper bottle for soft drinks.
4. Plant-Based Ingredients
Consumer eating habits have been changing in recent years, and businesses are taking notice and changing accordingly. 2021 has been the year in which McDonald’s has joined the meat-free movement. The fast food industry giant has begun creating alternatives to its most popular menus, contributing to the reduction of animal products. This commitment connects it with a market that already represents about 10% in countries including Germany, Denmark, Portugal and the state of California.
5. Organic Cosmetics
Green Beauty, part of the L’Oréal group, was the first brand to launch a line of organic cosmetics in the mass market, including, for example, a 97% biodegradable shampoo.
Market Research, a Key Ally in Aligning Brands and Consumers
How have these brands mapped out their sustainability strategy? The data clearly shows that the way to reconnect with this conscious consumer — who demands an unequivocal commitment from brands — is in the fight against climate change. Market research platforms such as Zinklar allow brands to quickly gain insight into this new consumer, especially at three key moments:
- Cause selection: How do we choose our contribution to the environmental fight? Which messages reach the public more easily and which messages go unnoticed? The key is to regularly analyze their sensitivities and align our sustainability strategy to their expectations.
- Product innovation: Brands must have data on how the public perceives their innovation. With studies such as concept tests, product tests or packaging tests, brands will understand to what extent they have been able to crystallize their strategy into options that will be favored at the time of purchase decision.
- Product communication/campaigns: Communication will be key for the product to be perceived positively. It is necessary to test the communication and fine-tune the tone, message, and timing to reduce the risk of accusations of greenwashing. Advertising tests, both pre-tests and post-tests, or advertising trackings will measure the success of the communication and will give us clues to improve it continuously.
At Zinklar we have designed a platform that allows us to have a continuous conversation with consumers. By tapping into consumers’ opinions and perceptions frequently, brands will be able to have relevant insights at all times, ensuring decision making based on today’s data. This frequent interaction through solid data will allow brands to connect with this conscious consumer, who demands concrete actions in favor of a more sustainable future.