Gaining consumer trust and incorporating green credentials as a core value is more important than selling sustainability, according to representatives from PZ Cussons, Akzonobel and Heineken.
Speaking at edie’s Sustainable Leaders Forum in London on the 19th November, the industry experts told businesses that gaining consumer trust had become vital in enticing them to care about sustainability.
PZ Cussons’ Director of Sustainability and Communications Eileen Donnelly, said, “Consumers aren’t necessarily looking for this message in the way that they look for a price promotion message. We are trying to take the complexity out of branding and give them a message that they don’t actually want.”
Indeed, while Donnelly explained that most consumers are still driven by price rather than product messages, a poll taken at the forum saw 78 percent of participants agree that eco labels failed to spark behavior amongst consumers.
Donnelly continued, “Keeping sustainability as a central value to your entire company protects your image. It is the way you should run your business. Boards will want to stick sustainability on a pack and flaunt it, but it’s really not that interesting, because it should be the norm for companies.
“Sustainability needs to be a part of the entire value proposition of the entire company, a part of its corporate soul. Unless it is relevant to the customer, just don’t tell them that what you’re selling is sustainable.”
Meanwhile, understanding the consumer was the key message from Akzonobel, Director Chris Cook said that work needs to be done on creating a depth of understanding of what a company’s values are. He said, “You can ram messages down throats as much as you like but it’s not going to make much difference. There’s a halo around brand trust and people trust brands they use to do the right thing.
“You just need to make sure that there is a story about the brand, rather than the product, which is in the background for the few people who actually want it.
“What you have to do to move people on to more sustainable solutions is to have practical benefits which interest consumers which also happen to be sustainable.”
And finally, shaping the message to best target consumers is of vital importance, and will generate the best financial and sustainable results.