Consumers Starting to Demand Sustainability: An Overview

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SustainabilitySustainable goods are in demand, according to the latest Nielsen research.

  • Fifty-five percent of consumers from 60 countries around the globe say they’re willing to pay more for products and services from companies committed to making a positive social and environmental impact.
  • More than half say they have purchased a product from such a company in the past six months, and;
  • Approximately the same percentage say that before making a purchase they check labels to see if a company is committed socially and environmentally.

Companies from all industries ranging from autos and construction to manufacturing and fashion are finding that offering consumers sustainable products is better for business.

Reputation Boost

Since 2008, around Earth Day, Kelley Blue Book has posted its picks for 10 Best Green Cars each year. For the past two years, the BMW i3 has won. Winning this type of award builds a brand’s reputation for green commitment, earning reviews on sites such as Green Car Reports, which has covered the BMW i3 extensively. By establishing this type of reputation for sustainability, you position your brand as a leader in your field in the eyes of your target market.

Increased Sales

Building a green reputation leads to more sales. Since 1992, the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy have promoted the Energy Star labeling program, which makes it easy for customers to find and buy energy-efficient products. Product categories include building products, home and commercial appliances, heating and cooling systems, lighting and fans, water heaters, office equipment, commercial food service equipment and electronics.

A favorable rating in such categories is valuable for companies that serve consumers as well as those that seek government and corporate contracts from clients who need to comply with regulatory agencies. For example, the global green construction industry grew to $260 billion in 2013, now representing 20 percent of all new commercial construction in the U.S., a trend the U.S. Green Building Council anticipates will accelerate in coming years.

Decreased Costs

Sustainability also saves businesses money by cutting the production and operational costs associated with inefficient energy and materials waste. As o-ring manufacturer Apple Rubber points out, prioritizing eco-friendly energy sources and materials cuts utility expenses, reduces packaging and minimizes transportation costs.

Saving costs on another front, Google recently earned a $50 million investment credit from the State of Alabama for locating their new data center on the site of a former coal plant.

Marketing Focus

Adopting sustainable policies can also boost marketing. For example, the Ryan Partnership Chicago/Mambo Sprouts Marketing Styling Sustainability survey found that 69 percent of consumers consider sustainability when buying apparel. Lack of animal testing is a higher priority than fashion among most shoppers, and use of earth-friendly organic materials is almost as important. Reportbuyer projects that eco-fashion trends will drive the growth of the European men’s footwear market in the next six years.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that food corporations such as Kellogg, ConAgra and General Mills are being forced to redesign their marketing to keep up with demand for local, organic, fresh food. Sales for these corporations fell last year, while supermarket sales of fresh produce, meat and dairy rose 5 percent.

To keep up, food giants are purchasing organic companies, with General Mills growing its natural and organic portfolio to $600 million. In the food industry as in other industries, sustainable marketing is the wave of the future.

Content courtesy of SocialMonsters

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