Sustainability and marketing

Jan 18, 2017 | written by:

We’ve already learnt that companies can only have benefits with CSR. There are many examples to look at, but to give more credit to there are also Stefano Zamagni’s words, Professor of Economics at the University of Bologna and International Political Economy at the Johns Hopkins University, who published an interesting interview on the Harvard Business Review. On a medium-term project, CSR brings a gain in terms of reputation, but also a 20% increase in profits in the balance if compared with companies of the same industrial sector that do not practice CSR.

Further and most  recently proof, also comes from Unilever (the Anglo-Dutch multinational company which owns many of the most popular food, beverages, hygiene products and household brands) and form the new consumer study conducted on a sample of 20,000 adult across Brazil, India, Turkey, UK e US. The purpose was to test and quantify the consumer interest in sustainable products and commitment to prefer them over others, the result has been the discovery of a marketing opportunity worth $1 trillion.

Main question was: how much your choices regarding food are influenced by sustainability concerns? For all respondents, the response was that yes, the concern is high. But 21% said they would support brands that clearly conveyed the sustainability aspects of their products through their marketing and packaging. Thus, if the market for sustainable goods currently sits at $2.65 trillion (€2.5 trillion), this creates just over $1 trillion (€966 billion) in opportunities for brands who can effectively communicate their products’ sustainable attributes. A very significant figure, but also a data that it is a confirmation: sustainability is no longer a nice-to-have requirement for businesses, but a must-have.

While 33% of those surveyed said they would purchase a product if they believe it benefits society and the environment, the level of motivation varies widely from country to country: In the UK (where price and brand have tended to outrank sustainability in driving purchase decisions), 53% said they felt better about buying sustainable products, far fewer than in Brazil (85%), India (88%) and Turkey (85%); in the US, the figure was 78%.

And Unilever?  For its part, Unilever seems to have hit the nail on the head in terms of creating brand and social value through sustainability: Earlier this year, it reported that its portfolio of Sustainable Living brands — brands including Dove, Lipton, Magnum, Calvé and Knorr, Hellmann’s and Ben & Jerry’s, which have integrated sustainability into both their purpose and products — delivered nearly half of Unilever’s overall growth, and grew 30 percent faster than the rest of the business.

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