How to Attract More Customers by Featuring Sustainability & Social Responsibility

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Are you ignoring this fact?

So many business owners continue to barrel ahead with little to no regard for the direction that the world is heading in.

This narrow focus could mean a quick death for many businesses whose owners choose to think of social and environmental responsibility as fads or irrelevant to their businesses. Many business owners are missing a unique marketing and sales opportunity by ignoring this diverse and broad demographic.

A new study demonstrates that a business’s commitment to social and environmental responsibility has an immense impact on consumers.

Trend or Change in Level of Consciousness?

BBMG, GlobeScan, and SustainAbility have released a new study that finds that customers around the world now weigh their shopping decisions against goals of being responsible to the environment and society.

Regeneration Roadmap

The Regeneration Roadmap, a collaborative and multi-faceted initiative by GlobeScan and SustainAbility, is designed to engage the private sector in advancing sustainable development by improving sustainability strategy, increasing credibility and delivering results at greater speed and scale.

In September and October 2012, 6224 consumers from Brazil, China, India, Germany, the UK, and the U.S. were surveyed online to craft the report, Rethinking Consumption: Consumers and the Future of Sustainability, which finds:

  • 63% equate shopping with happiness
  • 65% feel a sense of social responsibility
  • 56% care about how they look and style
  • 65% believe they have a responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society

The Aspirationals (37%)

Hundreds of millions of consumers, with the largest segment in Brazil, China, and India, care most about style and social status, equating shopping with happiness. They are also the most likely to believe we need to “consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations” (73%).

Aspirationals represent the persuadable mainstream on the path to more sustainable behavior. They love to shop, are influenced by brands, yet aspire to be sustainable in their purchases and actions. This consumer segment represents a significant opportunity for forward-looking brands to unite consumerism with social and environmental values.

—Raphael Bemporad, Co-Founder, BBMG

Aspirationals are looking for brands to provide solutions that both improve their lives and serve society as a whole. Understanding this dynamic tension provides the greatest opportunity for companies to create positive impact through consumers’ purchasing decisions and social actions.

—Pam Alabaster, Senior Vice President Corporate Communications, Sustainable Development & Public Affairs, L’Oréal USA

In our fifteen years of market analysis, we’ve never seen an opportunity like this. The Aspirationals will chart the future of sustainable consumption, as long as their favorite brands offer them what they want.

—Eric Whan, Sustainability Director, GlobeScan

The study was conducted as part of The Regeneration Roadmap project, which is being sponsored by such branding powerhouses as BMW, SC Johnson, Cisco, DuPont, Pfizer, Campbell Soup Company, Starbucks, and Shell.

How to Feature Your Social and Environmental Responsibility

There’s no better time than now to demonstrate your commitment to making the world a better place. In fact, you may be more sustainable and eco-friendly than you realize!

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you recycle around the office – paper, toner, food and beverage containers, etc.? Do you use washable dishes instead of disposable ones?
  • Do you print duplex and in draft mode? Do you print stationery as needed yourselves rather than bulk-ordering pricey, non-recyclable paper?
  • Do you reuse packaging materials and donate what you cannot use?
  • Do you or any of your employees participate in charitable or community-building events? If you’re not, could you be?
  • Do you make charitable donations or support any local non-profit organizations?
  • Do you participate in telecommuting programs to conserve fuel?
  • Do you use temperature regulation strategies, such as closing the window drapes on cold winter nights and hot summer days, or opening windows rather than using air conditioning,
  • Do you unplug small appliances, equipment, and peripherals like printers when not in use or when you close for the night or weekend?
  • Do you offer filtered tap water rather than bottled water?

Now that we’ve gotten the ball rolling, you’re probably starting to see how a business can very easily adopt and publicize a plan to demonstrate to their existing customers and new leads how they’re committed to the idea of a sustainable world.

Sustainability Policy

Download a sample sustainability policy.

Creating Your Sustainability or CSR Policy

If you’re truly aiming high, you can put together a formal Sustainability Policy to show the world that you’re working diligently to use sustainable materials and practices, as well as encouraging such practices among others. MeetGreen has developed a sample template so you can see what a formal statement of sustainability looks like for an events company (download at left).

A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Policy is a way in which a business monitors the public’s social perception of them as being responsible. The goal of social responsibility is to encourage the company’s actions toward the positive impact of consumer, community, and employee responsibility. They might cover such topics as:

  • Voluntary hazard elimination
  • Community development
  • Philanthropy
  • Creating shared value
  • Social education and awareness

These areas can be best understood by reading the article “Examples of Social Responsibility Strategies” from the Houston Chronicle.

Once you’ve put together your social responsibility goals and outlined them in a policy format, you can publish them on your website; include them in your press kit; and share them with your network of customers and colleagues.

Having a goal of sustainability and social responsibility will demonstrate to your customers that you share their increasing concern and awareness of these topics, showing that you are working with them to build a better world.

Are you an Aspirational? Does a business’s reputation for being responsible to the environment and society affect your decision about whether or not to buy from them?

About Sarah

Obsessed with order and driven to help you succeed in whatever you do to make the world a better place, I work tirelessly to keep you motivated, inspired, and informed about the worlds of branding and marketing. Read more about Enve or check us out on Twitter.