As businesses we know that we must act now to change the way to we do things to drive a future-proof sustainable model. But then, is it right for us to talk about it and to take a role in educating consumers on sustainability?
And how do we ensure it’s as much for the greater good as it is for making ourselves look better?
We need to think about our role and our responsibility as businesses – we absolutely have a part to play, and consumers expect us to be changing and evolving. There is a fine line, however, between transparency and self-aggrandisement, so we need to pitch it right and be humble. Thinking about articulating a specific customer benefit, or an environmental one that will benefit all, should be a consideration in our strategy. As is a way to facilitate wider behavioural change.
We know that society faces a huge flow of information right now – sustainability and climate change are front of mind with media warnings and government debates around what is to be done and how. How on earth can the average consumer navigate it all, let alone take in any of the (sometimes conflicting) information available?
And for the most part we are not well placed to land complex detail and theory to consumers, who often just want to transact with us, for goodness sake! Most consumers don’t want to be lectured on the state of the world by the chocolate bar they’ve just bought.
Of course, we need to ensure our messaging lands in the right way. It’s not just about what they want to hear from us, it’s the where and the when. Consider where we have the time, space and importantly, permission, to tell more of a story – provided, of course it’s one with which consumers want to engage. If we are to play a role here, we need to make that limited time we have with our consumers work hard, without making it feel hard for them.
And yes, sharing what we’re doing in the sustainability space can help differentiate us and give us competitive advantage, so of course it’s not entirely altruistic. But an educated consumer will be more likely start to change their own behaviour and in turn will expect better from other brands they interact with, so surely, it’s a bit of a win-win?