For many food businesses, practising more sustainable business methodologies is already becoming ingrained into everything they do. Much of this is driven by the need to satisfy a global customer base that is increasingly attuned to environmental issues and, as a result, making more conscious purchasing choices. This shift in attitude provides an opportunity for sustainability marketing. In this article, we will explain what exactly this means and why it’s so important.  

What is sustainability marketing?

Sustainability marketing is the promotion of environmentally-friendly products and/or services. The practice also extends to the promotion of a company's brand values and socially responsible practices. 

This might include sourcing goods from reliable and sustainable suppliers, offsetting emissions to become carbon neutral, contributing to charities that align with your company’s values or being more transparent about your business practices.

In broader terms, sustainability marketing is any form of marketing that highlights a company’s sustainability initiatives. It’s a way of increasing brand transparency and allowing customers to better understand your priorities in terms of reducing environmental impact. Businesses practice sustainability marketing to better connect with a global customer base that is increasingly attuned to environmental matters. 

Consumers demand change

This changing perspective towards sustainability is backed by research conducted by the EU Commission. In a report titled ‘Meet the 2020 Consumers Driving Change – Why Brands Must Deliver on Omnipresence, Agility and Sustainability,’ a shift in consumer habits was identified: 

“Nearly six in ten consumers (57%) are willing to change their purchasing habits to help reduce negative impact on the environment, and among those who say sustainability is important for them, this jumps to 77%. Moreover, of those who say these traits are very important, over seven in ten are willing to pay a premium for brands that support recycling, practice sustainability and/or are environmentally responsible.” 

This changing attitude opens up an interesting opportunity for sustainability marketing.

Sustainability marketing in action

As a customer, if you’ve carried out your own research to find out what products are locally-sourced or which companies use environmentally-friendly packaging, then you’ve likely experienced sustainability marketing. 

In the past, sustainability marketing was left primarily to ‘eco-friendly’ brands, or companies whose entire being was deeply-rooted in protecting the environment. Nowadays, however, all companies can partake in sustainability marketing as a way to better connect with their customers' needs and promote their own environmentally-friendly processes. 

As a company makes a name for itself due to its sustainability efforts, its brand recognition and customer acquisition will simultaneously increase. Companies like Apple, Lego, Patagonia and Starbucks have used sustainability marketing to great effect in recent years. The latter pledged to eliminate all plastic straws by 2020 while also opening 10,000 environmentally-friendly stores by 2025. Starbucks also set goals to achieve carbon neutral green coffee and conserve water usage in green coffee processing by 50% by 2030.

The importance of sustainability marketing

To understand the importance of sustainability marketing, we must consider the bigger picture. 

In 2022, people are much more aware of the environmental consequences of their actions. While being more environmentally-conscious starts at home, there is no ignoring the fact that large-scale commercial activities have a vastly more significant impact on the environment. This is why — for the long-term survival of our planet — many modern consumers choose to engage with companies that are actively reducing their environmental impact. This is backed up by research carried out by Deloitte, where the following was stated. 

“As consumers become more engaged, they expect the same of businesses. In fact, a majority (65%) of respondents expect CEOs to do more to make progress on societal issues, including reducing carbon emissions, tackling air pollution and making business supply chains more sustainable.”

If a business plans to stay in the market for a long time, sustainability marketing is essential. However big or small, every business has an impact on the environment. Every business has a responsibility to carry out more sustainable business practices to better protect the planet. 

With customers' expectations changing, sustainability has evolved into being much more than simply being ‘the right thing to do’. It’s still that — but now it’s also ‘the right thing to do to grow your business’.  Those companies that are transparent and honest with their customers and engage in real, impactful and measurable sustainability practices can gain a competitive advantage, increase customer loyalty and protect their brand image. Those that don’t will fall behind. 

How companies can start practising sustainability marketing 

One of the key components of sustainability marketing is transparency. Companies need to be open and honest about their products, processes and business practices. This means being clear about how products are made, where you source your ingredients, and how much energy is being used to create your products. Companies also need to be open about their carbon emissions. Customers want and deserve to know what they are buying; complete transparency is vital. 

In order to be more transparent, companies must first be able to calculate their environmental impact and then share that information with their customers. For a start, food businesses can use carbon footprint analysis solutions to track their impact and then add a carbon footprint score to packaging, dishes and promotional items. This level of transparency is vital in bringing customers with you on your sustainability journey. 

To learn more about Foodprint, our fully automated carbon footprint scoring solution designed specifically for food businesses, click here or drop us a line at info@nutritics.com.