Sustainability has become one of the most pressing issues facing businesses today. But how can a company really succeed in becoming a “green player”?
More and more businesses are noticing that consumers are increasingly including sustainability as an additional factor alongside quality and price when making purchasing decisions. This necessitates a comprehensive rethink in all areas of the company. Development, production, general office administration and sales have to be reviewed in terms of sustainable action and, if necessary, rethought. However, without a strong set of convictions that are deeply anchored in a company’s culture, this change might be impossible to achieve.
While sustainability had a “nice-to-have” status up until a few years ago, it is now important to actually consider the impact one’s actions are having and to act if necessary. Sustainability went mainstream a long time ago, and as a result, it can be found in just about every company’s mission statement. A superficial mention of sustainability in a company brochure or website is, however, hardly enough to successfully differentiate oneself from the competition.
Consumers, too, are becoming increasingly sensitive to whether companies are simply communicating green or whether they truly have integrated sustainability into their operational and strategic activities.
The current COVID-19 crisis is also posing major challenges for many organizations, including Taiwan’s state trade arm TAITRA, which had to put most of their marketing activities on hold. Its newly introduced sustainability strategy “Sharing is Caring” comes at the right time to also fill the marketing void that has arisen due to the pandemic.
Even though sustainability has often been equated with environmental concerns, the term stands for much more. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals comprise a total of 17 goals that emphasize the interplay of ecological, social, and economic action.
This fact emphasizes the need for a holistic strategy that combines the complex needs of the environment, society, and business. Measures for climate protection, regional commitment/CSR and brand positioning should therefore not be separated from each other but defined and aligned together as part of the company’s overall strategy.
In order for the shift in thinking toward greater sustainability commitment to succeed, employees, customers and the community must be won over for the new corporate philosophy. This poses a particular challenge in terms of credible communication.
Due to the increasing sensitivity in western society, caution is required: If consumers are unable to identify actual efforts taking place and see the communication as a form of greenwashing, it can actually lead to a PR disaster for the company. Overdone external communication can quickly lead to indifference or even mistrust. To protect against this, quantitatively verifiable goals that are objectively comprehensible should be pursued wherever possible. Self-critical, reflective communications also help convey a sense of transparency, which has a positive effect on trust in the company.
Want to discuss some of the topics we touched on in this blog, or do you need help in developing and communicating your sustainability strategy? Contact us, We’d be happy to look at your initiatives and discuss your approach.