Brand 101

Customers

From Walmart to Whole Foods, retailers are asking their suppliers about sustainability and the questions are getting tougher. Understanding how and what to communicate is important in order to open access to new retail markets, providing opportunity for increased market share.

Sadly not all retailers are requesting the same information but there are several efforts, including the Higg Index and the Sustainability Consortium, to create a common language and framework.

Regardless of whether you are a supplier or retailer, understanding the best practices and how to talk about your sustainability efforts is vital to your success.

Read more: A Glimpse Into the Future of Retailer Sustainability.

Consumers

Consumers look at a companies’ sustainability platform to make decisions about whether to purchase from them. This notion is backed by many consumer studies including by Ogilvy Earth who found that green consumers make up 82% of the market. Additionally, Cone Communications found that 80% of Americans are likely to switch brands if comparable in price and quality, to one that supports a social cause.

Communicating sustainability to your consumers is more important than ever, yet failing to do so is commonplace. 63% of consumers admit to not knowing where to find sustainability information and 55% say that they don’t understand the impact they are having when buying a product from a company that says it is socially responsible.

Investors

Shareholders looking into the future are in many ways the group most concerned with sustainability. Companies that ignore the risks of climate change and the benefits of sustainability do not just do a disservice to their near-term bottom line, but also risk losing the support of investors with a longer perspective. For many investors, solid environmental, social, and governance performance is no longer an additional accolade, it is a requirement.

The Principles for Responsible Investment have over 1,000 signatory firms holding assets over $30 trillion, or 20% of the total value of global capital markets. Pressure is also mounting to improve investments already made. In 2010, more shareholder resolutions were filed on environmental and social issues than any other topic.

Advocacy

Activist groups have long fought against many of the practices within the pet industry. However, only in recent years with an internet empowered world, any press or media tidbit can gain significant traction with the general public. As the other trends listed in this module continue to grow, the ability of activist groups to bring public pressure on a corporation will increase.  

Understanding who the main groups are (The Humane Society of America, PETA, etc) what their pet issues are (excuse the pun) is important when creating your sustainability strategy and communication platform.