In a business landscape where knowledge levels on sustainability amongst decision-makers and consumers are low, and where we underperform on SDGs, future economic hardship could pose considerable challenges. Sustainability needs to move from an ‘add-on’ or luxury, to the core of products, services and in fact company culture. How can we make sure that sustainability is integrated enough across the B2B & B2C markets to remain at the core of long-lasting business?
First of all, there is an urgency to integrate sustainability into the entire culture and operations of companies, that goes beyond solely targeting the sustainability manager or sustainability department.
Let’s take the B2B-market for example. Decision-makers with the responsibility of purchasing decisions in the B2B market currently show large knowledge gaps when it comes to sustainability. Research from Sustainable Brand IndexTM shows that any form of sustainability communication by suppliers is often lacking or limited to sustainability departments in the form of complex sustainability reports. Suppliers are simply aiming at impressing a sustainability manager with their communication when they, in fact, would be more successful in using clear and accessible information targeted at the actual purchasing actors. This is where impact in terms of sustainability really happens within the B2B market.
We used to see the same trend in B2C-markets. A few years ago, all sustainability communication in B2C-markets where targeted to the ‘dedicated consumers’, meaning those who put sustainability first when it comes to their values, attitudes and behavior. Today, we see a different communicative landscape in B2C-markets, with diverse sustainability communication accessible for several target groups.
Understanding and targeting all stakeholders, while identifying impact across the supply chain are essential for brands in successfully integrating sustainability.
Furthermore, brands need to embrace more effective marketing and communication strategies that breaks through the old habits in their markets.
Especially within the B2B market, companies are lagging behind when it comes to strategies including e.g. content marketing, storytelling, customer referral, business intelligence etc. When looking at the results of Sustainable Brand IndexTM, we can see that leading brands such as Tetra Pak and Lantmännen, are using more typical B2C-communication, towards their B2B-customers. They opted out of the more traditional and heavier B2B-marketing on sustainability and decided to deliver more creative, customer-oriented and approachable communication. One of the key factors for success it appears.
Other top brands show that it is through clear positioning with active sustainability communication. It is about taking a clear stand through sustainable product portfolios and updated brand platforms where sustainability is well-integrated. Telling the sincere story and purpose of a brand, using creative content and including the actual customer is the way forward.
Get inspired, by looking at some of these communication strategies of some of the leading brands:
Stena Recycling, HP, Coop and Patagonia
It is important to remember that consumers and clients are hungry for honest communication that resemble a brand’s actions. Pretty words and emotional pleas won’t do anymore, without the actual results. Brands need to become more transparent and will increasingly be held accountable by their stakeholders for what they communicate. This also makes internal culture and employee activation powerful external assets. They strongly reflect a brand’s values, which connects to the ability of a company to be resilient and future-proof.