Spoiler alert — your audience is socially conscious. They are more likely to engage with businesses that align with their values.
And here are the stats to prove it:
- 92% of customers are more likely to trust a brand that is environmentally or socially conscious.
- 73% of Millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable offerings.
- 66% of consumers worldwide say they’re willing to pay more for sustainable brands.
The demand for sustainability in business is only increasing. To meet customer expectations, sustainability should be intertwined with the purpose and mission of your company. And you can exceed customer expectations by putting those efforts front and center with sustainable marketing strategies.
81% of people expect businesses to be environmentally conscious in their advertising and marketing activities. Odds are, some of your marketing tactics fall into the category of sustainable marketing already. However, developing a long-term, effective, sustainable marketing strategy will require buy-in from your entire company.
Let’s break down how to get started and where video can help.
In this article:
What is sustainable marketing?
Sustainable marketing is a way for businesses to share their commitment to sustainable practices that positively impact the environment.
Sustainable marketing practices may include improving transparency around the design, production, and distribution of your environmentally conscious products. It could also include ways to educate customers and consumers on how to conserve finite resources.
Sustainable marketing generates awareness around a business’s commitment to environmental practices and can help attract like-minded customers.
If a business’s sustainable practices align with their values or mission, the business’s sense of identity will likely be strengthened.
Why does sustainable marketing work?
Sustainable marketing appeals to both values-driven and purpose-driven customers. Buyers increasingly align their purchases to their belief systems; they are four to six times more likely to buy from, trust, champion, and defend companies with a strong purpose.
Taking a step back to focus on the long-term effects of your business on the environment is inherently customer-focused. In a world where customers are more ethically driven than ever, sustainable marketing often proves that leadership is willing to overlook short-term profits in favor of other motivations, like the health of the planet.
What is greenwashing?
Greenwashing is when a business promotes environmentally conscious products or services without making a measurable impact on conserving environmental resources, protecting the environment, or striving to become carbon neutral.
This can have a negative impact on businesses and brands by misleading potential customers and eroding trust.
To prevent greenwashing, consider the following guidelines:
Be specific with your language, measurements, and data.
Rather than saying a pair of shoes are made of recycled plastics, consider identifying the percentage of recycled plastics (75% recycled plastics) that make up the product’s materials.
Build transparency around your sustainability plans, practices, and goals.
Clearly define your business’s sustainability plans and practices to help customers better understand the scope of your work and your impact. Projecting clear goals can also help customers understand what you’re trying to achieve by designing and selling your products.
Leverage data and reports to provide updates on impact and progress.
Updating data can also provide validating evidence around your business’s sustainability efforts and impact. Monitoring and publishing data around your business’s efforts promotes transparency. Also consider researching and applying for relevant third-party certifications to increase brand trust and commitment.
5 aspects of a successful sustainable marketing strategy
A sustainable marketing strategy needs to be woven into every part of your company. It isn’t just a video campaign or a product design; it’s the purpose behind it.
1. Have an understanding of corporate sustainability
Sustainable marketing is only successful when your company lives up to the values it’s touting.
Corporate sustainability comes from the concept of sustainable development, or economic development that meets the needs of present generations without compromising the needs of future generations.
To have sustainable development, companies should consider the following:
- Human rights and social justice. Businesses and corporations of all sizes directly impact their employees and the communities they encounter. Providing fair wages, a clean and safe environment inside and outside the office, and ethical treatment are commitments sustainable companies should make.
- Natural resource extraction and waste. This might be the first thing you think of when you hear “sustainability.” Companies create massive amounts of waste and rely on natural resources such as land, water, and energy. Acknowledging your company’s impact and taking steps to reduce it will reinforce your sustainable marketing efforts.
- Maintaining a long-term outlook. Sustainability is a long-term investment in the health of your company and future generations.
2. Have a purpose
Every business has a profit-driven perspective. Without profit, a business is not viable.
Sustainable marketing injects an additional perspective by questioning the purpose of profit without longevity. Climate change transcends industry and having a purpose that’s bigger than you builds a foundation for your company that a loss in profit is less likely to discourage.
A fun exercise here could be to revisit your company’s mission statement and think about 1) how well your company lives up to it, and 2) what more can be done to ground it within a mission. If your company doesn’t have a fully-baked mission statement, take a look at your most successful products or marketing campaigns. What made them successful? What is your audience resonating with?
3. Put your customers first
Sustainable marketing inherently challenges marketers to build long-term value.
If you are successfully building that value through every part of the buyer’s journey, you are putting your customers first.
The difficulty in providing value is in discovering the tactics that work for your audience. Education is a great way to do this, you just have to deliver your educational content in an entertaining way.
You’ll also have to listen to what your customers are looking for when it comes you your company’s practices. Transparency is a great company value when it comes to sustainability because it allows your customers to be involved in every step of the process.
For example, Patagonia is transparent around their use of recycled materials to source their clothing lines. HubSpot releases a Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging report every year to reflect the diversity of its customers. Both are not only great sustainable marketing practices, but great examples of how transparency can generate value.
4. Invest in sustainable marketing practices
It should go without saying that if you are marketing the sustainable values of your business, you have to do so sustainably.
Most digital marketing exists without a carbon footprint, but in the world of event and community marketing, it can be important to look at your impact before, during, and after your events. Reducing waste, using recyclable materials, and making sure recycling cans are visible, are extremely important things to think about in the first stages of planning.
Other tactics, like video marketing, are a sustainable way to tell a compelling story and incorporate your mission directly into your marketing.
With Vimeo Create, your team can create polished videos in minutes.
5. Showcase sustainability everywhere
When sustainability is a part of your marketing tactics, it should be everywhere else too.
Once you lose customer trust, it’s extremely difficult if not impossible to win back. Imagine what would happen if customers found out you were claiming an inauthentic value in order to drive profit.
Sustainability requires a holistic approach. Market sustainably while using environmentally-friendly sourcing. Partner with companies that share your mission. Build a team that aligns with your values and is representative of the communities you serve. Showcase transparency within your company practices so customers can do their own research.
It’s also okay to not be perfect, that’s what transparency is for. Building your sustainable marketing strategy also requires identifying which of these areas you can improve. As long as you’re honest with your customers and marketing from a genuine place, you can be sure they’ll stick around to see how you deliver.
4 inspiring instances of brands using sustainable marketing
Kengos aims to fight climate change by making footwear a force for good. Founders Dave Costello and Micah Heftman knew that the best way to communicate the brand’s beliefs around manufacturing, climate change, and fashion was to tell the story through video.
Using sustainable storytelling, the Kengos website is chock-full of stats, facts, and product photos. But the soul of the site is an embedded video that expresses the brand’s core principles. Aptly titled “The Production Process,” the video was shot in Los Angeles prior to launch.
“Video lets us tell [our] whole story in a way that’s so much more vivid than words and pictures alone.”Dave Costello, Kengos co-founder
Try making your brand’s mission memorable by uploading a video.
Patagonia has maintained a steady focus on sustainable action since its inception. In 2016, Patagonia announced it would donate 100% of its Black Friday sales to non-profit organizations working to protect the environment.
That year the brand forecasted sales around the $2 million mark. It blew those expectations out of the water with a record-breaking $10 million in sales.
California Wild is a low-water landscaping brand that incorporates environmental consciousness into its core mission. Founder Briana Lyon planted the seeds for her company while observing wildlife on a camping trip.
Utilizing e-commerce and video marketing, Lyons is able to market her mission with ease. After a few weeks of adding videos to her most popular products, she observed an overall jump in site traffic by 24%, along with a 28% increase in unique visitors and a 29% boost in adds to cart.
Create a branded video to attract more traffic to your site.
For a limited time, Lacoste swapped out its signature crocodile brand mark for renderings of ten different endangered animals. Their “save our species” campaign brought attention to endangered animals around the world, and the profits were shared with the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The number of shirts displaying each logo corresponded to the number of those animals remaining in the wild. The Gulf of California porpoise logo had only 30 shirts.
Sustainable marketing brings an unprecedented opportunity for people, communities, and businesses to thrive.