Four fifths of consumers globally believe companies should help improve the environment, according to a recent survey by Nielsen, and brands are starting to respond with increasingly bold messages and commitments.

Sustainability is the topic of this month’s Admap, which looks at how brands are tackling everything from plastic pollution to recycling by design, using behavioural economics and cause-related marketing.

The urgency of taking action was highlighted last October, when the UN warned that the world has only 12 years in which to limit catastrophic climate change.

Julia Wilson, Vice President, Global Responsibility & Sustainability at Nielsen, sees things starting to happen in the commercial world, as brands react to the concerns of consumers.

“What’s growing is the boldness of the marketing messages and the commitments that brands are willing to take,” she writes in her Admap article, Sustainable shoppers buy the change they want to see in the world.

“We’re seeing a bigger trend towards ‘visible and emotional sustainability’ – brands taking a stance on social and political issues and making major commitments to eliminate waste.”

Ultimately, companies won’t be able to side-step this trend, she argues. “Sooner or later, whether through government regulation, sheer force of nature, or public outcry, companies will need to respond.

“No matter what market you’re in, connecting sustainability factors to how it impacts consumers is the key.” 

Nielsen analysis of sales trends globally shows how consumers “have a growing appetite for products living in the sweet spot of ‘healthy for me and healthy for the world’,” she notes.

Just how the sustainability message manifests, however, may be different depending on the maturity of the market, Wilson adds.

Where the sustainability product landscape is less developed, for example, companies that establish themselves early can become sustainability champions, which could give them a first mover advantage.

Where the landscape is more developed “consumers are beginning to search for more clarity around sustainability messaging”, she says.

And while getting the sustainability message across is clearly vital, it’s not just about marketing, Wilson stresses: “embed sustainability considerations into each step of your product creation and growth strategy to resonate with consumers in a truly authentic way.” (Watch this video for more of her advice on how to integrate sustainability into your strategy.)

This issue of Admap – Sustainability: Opportunities and challenges for brands – features a selection of articles by thought leaders from across the globe. WARC subscribers can access the deck, Sustainability: Opportunities and challenges for brands, which summarises the expert advice and key recommendations from all the authors.

Sourced from Admap