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Despina Vourtsaki -

We see a heavy turn towards “greener” brands from consumer activists nowadays. Businesses & brands will want to shift their focus from expanding their value chain at all costs to achieving the lowest possible carbon footprint. However, this urgent demand on reducing carbon emissions globally can’t happen without the support of partners & cross-sector initiatives. Although those who won’t measure up to the new realities of sustainability fast, they might come across with the consequences of loosing brand loyalty.

The current challenge

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (aka COP26) was an eye-opener to the planet’s dystopian future if fossil-fueled production companies fail to deliver a sustainable transformation. Evidently, finding the financial means for these businesses from both the public & private sector was also a central point of the discussion. But before we start breaking our piggy banks & with the next COP coming up in 2022, it is better to take this “gap year” for watching & learning what it is hopefully going to be a permanent solution for the near future.

The 2022 opportunities

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Despite the high costs of such transformation, 2022 is the year of opportunities. This massive wave of consumer activists including all generations, are paving the way of the post-pandemic consumption era. In fact, 82% of consumers say they are more concerned about sustainability now than they were before COVID-19. But without the help of big brands, they are limiting their options of making sustainable everyday choices. Google has gathered important information about search patterns in order to determine the key trends of sustainable behaviors and they’re sharing them with brands to help them fulfill their role.

Opportunity no1: Positive Storytelling

Professor of Environmental Psychology Lorraine Whitmarsh, Director of the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations, says that “The evidence suggests that more positive messaging is much more effective than anything that might induce guilt. The more that positive messaging can focus on what audiences care about, the better, and that might not necessarily be climate change.” People show equal interest for “co-benefits” of climate initiatives, such as health, convenience and affordability. This highlights the need of consumers to solve everyday problems with sustainability and break down their bigger goals into smaller adjustments that boost positive feelings.

Opportunity No2: Eco-Effortless

The data have also shown that consumers are not ready to choose sustainability over convenience, quality or affordability.

However, they are expecting brands to include more eco-friendly choices among other product benefits. Equally, sustainability should be communicated cohesively as a default integration to the whole brand experience instead of a separate choice, avoiding the friction trap. Think of integrating it to your best sellers rather than creating a new collection.

Opportunity No3: Progress Over Perfection

Nobody expects brands to achieve sustainable perfection overnight, but they would like to know you’re trying. This way they feel motivated and invested in their choice. Positive reinforcement by marketers can also impact consumer behaviors by showing the rewards of how their purchase decisions now, matter to their greater sustainable goals later.

While companies have the ability to affect customer behavior for the better, this can only happen if they first motivate consumers. Most people believe they are already doing their share or that duty is borne by someone else. What they’re looking is for brands to share their suffering, and brand owners should translate this to creating value in every aspect of their business.

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