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Consumers want sustainable products and are willing to spend more to support brands that share their values. Increasingly, however, they find it difficult to translate these good intentions into action or to determine which products are actually considered sustainable. In fact, 40% of consumers now struggle to name a single sustainable brand, and more than 60% say they are confused about the sustainability of their purchasing decisions.
It’s a sign that brands’ green marketing efforts just aren’t working. Oversaturated consumers have become both weary and distrustful of brands’ environmental commitments and “look how green we are” ad campaigns. In fact, “greenwashing” has become so pervasive that even 49% of marketers now say they hate working on sustainability-themed campaigns.
So what is the answer? The answer, I believe, is show, not tell. Instead of using marketing to tell customers you’re committed to sustainability, start using Product Information to show them exactly what your values mean in practice, and exactly why your products are the best choice for them.
Less marketing, more information
Think of it this way: what consumers really want isn’t just a vague feeling that your brand cares about the planet. They want to know what your product actually does to help and understand concretely why it is better than the following product. They also need this information not when watching television or reading a magazine, but at the exact moment when they make a purchase decision.
Imagine a customer standing in front of a rack of bananas. It doesn’t matter to this shopper whether Chiquita or Dole have spent the past week airing flashy TV ads showing fields of lush, sustainably grown banana plantations. What the buyer needs at this time is clear and precise information that will help him quickly make a purchase decision in line with his personal values.
This is where product information comes in. Maybe the grocery store adds Fair Trade stickers to some bananas, but not others; maybe they have a separate rack of organic products or signage showing how many miles a product has traveled. Done right, this kind of insight – rooted in specific data and encountered at the time of making a purchase – helps shoppers make smarter, more informed decisions.
Of course, product information isn’t just for grocery stores. In fact, some of today’s most powerful applications for sustainability information can be found in the world of e-commerce, where product data plays a key role in shaping brand experiences.
Think about eco-labels and certifications. There is only so much product information that you can physically attach to a product or communicate with an in-store display. However, when you’re selling online, there’s virtually no limit to the amount of information and data you can associate with any given product listing.
This is important because consumers are hungry for rich, detailed and reliable information. External certifications can therefore be a powerful way to communicate your brand values. In fact, 62% of consumers now consider sustainability certifications to be the first sign that a brand is truly committed to sustainable and ethical business practices.
The trick is to use sustainability certifications in a way that makes sense to your customers. We’re used to thinking of eco-labels as nothing more than logos: nice to have, but not much of a game-changer. Take the process online, however, and anchor it in up-to-date product information management, and you can dramatically increase the value these certifications provide to customers and your brand.
Don’t be afraid to educate
Creating effective sustainability messaging means more than just sticking an eco-label on your product listing. The goal is not only to to see durable; is to articulate and explain Why your product is sustainable and leverage third-party validation to elevate your explanations above mere marketing messages.
Inspired by nutrition labels on food products, some brands are now creating sustainability information panels for their products, laying out clear metrics on everything from carbon emissions and materials to water and waste consumption. energy. Used alongside third-party certifications, this type of detailed information can help explain Why a given eco-label is important, what you had to do to qualify and what it says about the sustainability of your product.
The advantage of this type of engagement is that it is customer-focused. If a customer does not want additional information, he does not have to pay attention to it. You’re not imposing unwanted sustainability messages on your customers; instead, you let them come to you and leverage the credibility inherent in third-party certification to frame an ongoing conversation about your brand values.
Make sustainability accessible
The next evolution of this process is to use sustainability information to enable consumers to quickly and easily find products that fully align with their values. You probably already allow customers to search for products by size, color, or other distinguishing features. Why not also make sustainability certifications and related product information searchable, and allow customers to filter your products based on labels you’ve obtained or metrics you’ve disclosed?
Using a back-end product information system that aligns with front-end search and discovery tools, you can enable customers to search for products based on the sustainability criteria of their choice and use this process to educate them on the value of the certifications you’ve earned.
After all, customers probably don’t have a specific eco-label in mind when looking for products, but they may want to filter products based on their water consumption, carbon emissions, or usage. of recycled materials. The key here is that the eco-label becomes more than just a checkbox – it becomes an entry point for an intelligent, detailed and verifiable conversation about the different qualities that make your products so great.
Consumers want brands to communicate their sustainability strategies effectively, but they also want that message to come from a place of authenticity. By anchoring sustainability messages not in vague statements of aspiration, but in concrete, transparently communicated product information, brands can convince consumers and build lasting relationships by helping them make smarter choices. and more sustainable in the products they buy.
Virginie Blot is a PXM Evangelist and product marketing expert at Akeneo. Before that, she worked as a business consultant for an ERP software company.
Image Credit: eldar nurkovic / Shutterstock.com