By: Joy Corkery
Despite the fact that 9 out of 10 Australians are concerned about sustainability, Australia rates poorly when it comes to clean energy and climate change goals. Making progress here lies in the hands of the government, some might argue. But that’s not necessarily true.
Local designers are already playing their part to make a difference, switching to producing conscious, ethical and cruelty-free fashion. However, the big name brands are slow to follow. Think Amazon’s excessive packaging or the fast fashion practices of brands like H&M and Zara. Sales may still be high right now but the mindset of consumers is changing – and brands will need to keep up in order to survive.
But what exactly is it that consumers want from brands? A recent sustainable study by Latana asked 1046 respondents for their opinion. The answers are key to prevailing in today’s ever changing world.
Reputation is Everything
Some brands focus on statistics like “49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business” and “consumers read an average of 7 reviews before trusting a business.” But do they ever think about what a bad reputation on sustainability could do?
69% of respondents from the sustainability study put importance on knowing a brand has a good online reputation for being environmentally sustainable. That’s a much higher number than those who care about four-star ratings. And, while it may not seem like a statistic worth worrying about at first, brands need to think about how this perception can translate into sales down the line.
56% of respondents stated that they would buy a sustainable product over another. A further 38% of respondents answered “maybe”, meaning it is currently easy for brands to sway them either way. Just 6% of respondents surveyed answered “no”. It looks like brands that have a sustainable reputation are more likely to prosper.
Profit can also be made not just in additional sales but also by charging a premium price. 44% of respondents are willing to pay more for more sustainable products. However, a significant chunk of respondents (30%) did signify that they wouldn’t pay more for more sustainable products. Brands who already operate more sustainably and need to charge a higher price to cover costs need not worry about this figure. If they can show why their product is more valuable than the competitor’s, and build an emotional connection with their target audience, they have a good shot at winning over this 30%.
Sustainable Brands Need Brand Awareness
The potential of higher sales for brands that are more sustainable will start company executives’ brains churning with new ideas. However, before brands can try to cash in on sustainability, they need to create awareness.
Brands that are fully sustainable, or at least offer a sustainable product, need to let their target audience know. 37% of respondents indicated that they didn’t know any brands that offer sustainable products.
The best place for brands to start is by using SEO best practices and social media campaigns. 43% of respondents indicated that they search out sustainable companies. Brands can heighten their chances of being found in their search results by creating long-form content around their sustainability and videos that can be easily found on popular platforms like YouTube and Instagram.
Consumers Won’t Be Fooled By Greenwashing
Brands should not falsely claim that their product is green. Not only is the Australian Association of National Advertisers cracking down on greenwashing, consumers won’t be fooled either.
Consumers look beyond marketing to more tangible aspects of products to determine if it is right for them. In fact, respondent’s top three most important things it came to a sustainable product were:
Recyclable packaging (37%)
No harmful chemicals (34%)
Made from 100% recycled materials (34%)
Consumers who make sustainable purchases will be easily able to determine the truth in these areas. If they find out brands are being deceiving, they will leave negative reviews. Then brands will have to start worrying about those less than four-star reviews mentioned earlier.
Sustainability More Pressing For Some Industries
Brands in certain industries need to become more sustainable sooner rather than later to keep up with the expectations of consumers. Based on respondents answers, these are the top three industries people expect to be more environmentally sustainable:
Household products (43%)
Personal care (40%)
Food and non-alcoholic beverages (37%)
While brands in all industries should take note of the insights shared in this article, these areas in particular don’t have the luxury of dragging their feet.
All brands need to move toward more sustainable operations. The insights derived from Latana’s study have made that clear. Remember, customers are fickle and have plenty of options as to where to spend their money. Even despite years of brand loyalty, if a new brand fits their needs and values more, consumers will make the move.