As Asia Pacific consumers increasingly focus on how sustainable a brand’s business practices are, marketers can useblockchain-driven records to drive sustainability narratives with greater transparency.

You say you’re going green. How can customers believe you?

In this age of eco-conscious consumerism, marketers are now faced with the new challenge of proving the honesty of their brand’s commitment to sustainability. In recent years, the wave of sustainable consumerism, having been fuelled by the modern consumer’s growing eco-consciousness, has now swelled into a looming megatrend that businesses must quickly learn to surf – or risk being completely swept away.

Asia Pacific consumers are increasingly placing greater value on sustainable business practices. In a recent study by Bain & Co, it was found that across the board, Asia Pacific consumers are willing to pay more for more sustainable products.

To illustrate with a few examples, in China, 95% of respondents indicated as such, 97% in the Philippines and 84% in Singapore. Additionally, in PwC’s 2021 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey, 51% of respondents factored whether the product was produced with a traceable and transparent origin in their decision-making process.

This means that sustainable business practices have become a competitive advantage for brands to leverage and for marketers to shout about.

Yet, it is not as simple as communicating a brand’s sustainable business practices. With the prevalence of greenwashing, most consumers, while preferring brands that have sustainable operations, are also sceptical of such claims. In Bain’s study, 15% of over 16,000 Asia Pacific consumers do not purchase sustainable goods because of a lack of information, or the simple fact that they do not trust claims of sustainability.

One final key consumer insight for marketers to note is that our consumer base is not only becoming increasingly digital but has begun taking more of their shopping behaviour online as well. Nielsen has reported that e-commerce is the second biggest retail channel in Asia, with 19.5% of FMCG sales coming through online channels, and e-commerce growth in the region is unrelenting. The ability for marketers to meet their customers at digital points of sale presents a powerful opportunity to communicate their brand’s sustainable practices and to build brand equity.

So how can brands assure that consumers can trust their products, their services and their processes when it comes to sustainability? The answer lies in empowering customers to audit the business and actionably determine for themselves if a business is being truly responsible and sustainable in its practices. As the saying goes: “I’ll believe it when I see it”.

Blockchain builds trust

Leave no room for doubt with blockchain-driven records. By ensuring all provenance information of a product is easily available to customers – through ToFu, MoFu and BoFu – a brand will be able to demonstrate its commitment to operational transparency and to pursuing sustainability outcomes. In doing so, brands can build brand equity and engender trust amongst their customers, new and old.

To put provenance information literally at the fingertips of customers, brands will have to rely on blockchain-driven records. These documents are tamper-proof and instantly verifiable. They are digital replicas of their physical counterparts, whether it be credentials, certificates, badges or even logos. These records can be instantly verified for authenticity with a simple QR code scan.

This means brands can conduct detailed reporting at every step of their production process and be assured that such reports are true-to-source since blockchain-driven records are tamper-proof. Blockchain-driven records also create an audit trail, which allows brands to introduce more transparency and control throughout the value chain. In this manner, blockchain-driven records can bolster a brand’s sustainability efforts by ensuring compliance throughout the supply chain. Simply put, blockchain-driven records can serve as the new standard of digital accreditation for sustainable practices.

Here, we see an opportunity for marketers to strengthen the company’s sustainability narrative. By granting consumers unprecedented access to true-to-source provenance information – since blockchain-driven records can be instantly verified with a simple QR code scan – brands can empower their customers with the ability to audit the brands’ business behaviour and enable them to align their purchases with their values of sustainability.

Such an act also sends a clear message of the brand’s commitment to transparency and that inspires trust and confidence in the brand amongst its customers.

Let’s explore how marketers can leverage blockchain-driven records to drive sustainability narratives.

Opportunities for brand communication

First, marketers need to meet their core customers where they are increasingly found – in the online environment. To do so, marketers can review their digital brand touchpoints, such as websites, e-commerce platforms and social media. By leveraging the ability of blockchain-driven records to provide true-to-source, tamper-proof provenance information, and by making such information easily accessible at these digital brand touchpoints, a company can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability objectives with full transparency at scale and in that manner, build trust and brand equity amongst its stakeholders.

A powerful way of communicating with blockchain-driven records is to use it for truthful product-specific reporting. This opens up new content territories, where marketers can go beyond broad corporate sustainability claims and begin shouting about product-specific ones instead.

For example, instead of reporting that a brand has saved a certain amount of carbon emissions in a certain year, the brand can go even further and illustrate how specific products in their portfolio have had their carbon footprints reduced over time and by how much. In this manner, customers can witness the full extent of a brand’s sustainability efforts, where progress in reducing the business’ environmental impact is seen being made across its entire product portfolio.

The fact that blockchain-driven records are a form of digital accreditation – even more so if the record is endorsed by authorised auditors – makes this communication piece in a brand’s communication strategy more compelling than it could ever have been before the adoption of such technology.

Blockchain and brand touchpoints

Beyond the digital environment, blockchain-driven records have also breathed new life into physical brand touchpoints. Traditional OOH mediums such as billboards, bus stop posters, rich media buys, posters and even product labels are all formats that sport a QR code. This is the true beauty of blockchain-driven records – the fact that the complex technology behind building digital trust in supply chain reporting, involving multiple stakeholders and processes, can all be condensed into a simple QR code scan that takes merely a second to complete.

Brands can plan omnichannel communications strategies that span across digital and physical channels – meeting their customers where they are both online and offline – and foster a relationship that is based on transparency and trust. From these brand touchpoints and experiences, marketers can even ease into lead nurturing activities, where a scan to bring up a product’s provenance information can lead the scanner to a purchase site or even to the brand’s sustainability story landing page for an extended brand experience.

Blockchain and compliance

Blockchain-driven records are also relevant to B2B and B2G companies when it comes to process compliance. With blockchain-driven records, B2B and B2G companies can hold all stakeholders within the value chain accountable for their business practices. Those enforcing sustainability policies within the value chain can ensure compliance, while those adhering to these policies can demonstrate compliance. As the value chain moves towards greener ways of doing business, brand communications can leverage such sustainability inroads and enhance brand reputation amongst stakeholders through brand communication tools such as annual corporate reports and sustainability reports.

The reality is that it is no longer enough for brands to simply say what customers want to hear. The old adage, “talk is cheap”, has finally caught up with us. Marketers now must go beyond making simple claims of sustainable practices, however true they may be, and give their customers a real reason to believe what they are saying.

This can only be done by giving customers the ability to audit the brand themselves and to show that the brand does walk the talk. Blockchain-driven records can help bridge this gap in trust. The technology to achieve this is here and it’s high time for brands to embrace the next stage of technology to build stronger, more trusting relationships between themselves and their stakeholders.