Bridging the gap between branding, sustainability and consumer demands

‘Businesses can not

succeed in societies

that fail. (…)

With liberty comes


Sustainable brands

have the heritage,

ability and drive

to bring this alive.’

Paul Polman, CEO Unilever

Marketing Sustainability

Doing business often means introducing sustainability into production chains. But how can business create value from 'sustainability'? What are the risks and opportunities? In this book, three leading brands share their insights and experiences on their revolutionary search for peaks.

Lipton Tea, Nespresso and the FSC all faced similar challenges and all had gaps (in strategy, awareness and credibility) to bridge before they could move on.

The strategy gap

In these changing times, companies must adept quickly to the various pressures they face. Climate change, a growing world population, intense pressure on natural resources and the ageing of the population call for a more sustainable way of doing business.

Nowadays, business strategy is commonly associated with sustainability. There is

increasing evidence that aligning the interests of all stakeholders often leads to better (financial) results. Examining sustainability from the supply chain point of view is a common enough exercise. However it must be noted that business strategy and marketing strategy are not always one and the same thing. Having a marketing perspective is central to doing business and this is also true for sustainability. Sustainability marketing can create real value, when viewed from the consumers’ perspective.

The awareness gap

We live in exciting times. Call it what you like: the ‘Age of Transcendence’, ‘The Conceptual Age’, ‘The Consumer Age’ or the ‘Age of Turbulence’. What we call it doesn’t make a great deal of difference. What’s important is what lies behind it: the fact that we are all connected to each other through the Internet, that knowledge can spread at lightning speed across the world, leading to new ideas and specialisations emerging on a global scale. In addition we are using up our raw materials at a fast rate, we are contaminating our environment, and we are taking too many (financial) risks and living beyond our means. In effect we are turning the world on its head through our own actions. An aging population has also important and long-reaching consequences. For the first time in history, there are more people in Western Europe aged over forty than there are aged under forty. The over-40s are experienced consumers. They are interested in gaining more meaningful products and services, having already satisfied the majority of their material needs. They are online fuelled, they buy online and are keen to form

online communities to work together to get things moving, review products publicly or to make demands.

When it comes to awareness of sustainability issues Western European consumers are in the lead. They are familiar with the trends and the consequences and are increasingly more aware of their own role and their ability to bring about change. This is particularly true for communities in which people meet each other around a specific interest or hobby. Dutch consumers remain critical when it comes to sustainable products. Motivaction and GfK both observed a decrease in people’s

involvement in the environment and society.......

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