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Biodegradable packaging. Low-emission transport. Sustainably-sourced food. Consumers are calling for brands to take greater responsibility for the environment, and not listening is not an option:

42% of U.S. and UK consumers say products that use sustainable materials are important in their day-to-day purchasing.

And with government initiatives guiding from the top down, it’s the brands occupying the middle ground that are under the spotlight – at least from a consumer perspective.  

This is something brands should capitalize on to increase their appeal and drive purchasing.

By uncovering exactly what motivates consumers form a sustainability perspective, they can gather the insights needed to develop the right kinds of processes, products and messaging to meet their rising expectations.

Here are the sustainable brands that are delivering on this evolving consumer trend, and reaping the rewards.

1. Amazon

What it’s doing well.

Our latest research shows 33% of consumers see brands as responsible for the environment.

So as one of the most powerful brands in the world, Amazon is taking its responsibility seriously.

Through a dedicated hub, Amazon highlights its relentless commitment to sustainability, in more ways than one.

Through the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative, the brand even proves its dedication to innovation in sustainability – setting out to help researchers and innovators overcome key obstacles in analyzing valuable data on the subject.

But the most powerful messages here are transferred through articles and videos, showcasing collaborations with household name brands such as Procter & Gamble.

In one spot, the brand describes P&G’s recognizable orange Tide laundry detergent bottle as an ‘American icon’, and set about working with the company to create a more sustainable packaging solution.

Why it works.

Amazon doesn’t just talk about pumping time and resource into sustainability – it gives its consumers real-world proof of how they’re doing it – with brands we’re all familiar with.

Through its regularly-updated web page featuring recent research and articles on key topics of packaging, energy and sustainability, the brand is dominating the space, along with many others.

What we can learn.

By partnering with a high-profile brand that uses a large amount of plastic packaging for their products, Amazon effectively amplifies its message across two audiences via a highly identifiable and popular product.

For brands looking to engage consumers by building a reputation for environmental responsibility, collaborations not allow you to tap into new audiences, they add weight to your message through shared goals.

2. Danone

What it’s doing well.

Many companies want to be seen to have high sustainability targets, but for Danone, the company behind Activia yoghurts and Evian water, total transparency is key.

Danone has a very clear motive behind its green initiatives. It seeks to promote health through its food and says the health of the planet, therefore, is a priority.

By publicly releasing a user-friendly report detailing the challenges, successes and shortfalls when it comes to its blockchain carbon footprint, Danone highlights the need for businesses to be aware of their impact across the full production journey.

What makes Danone’s response to environmental changes so remarkable, is the positive results that have been reported by third-party assessors.  

According to research conducted by CDP, of the sixteen largest publicly-listed food and beverage companies, Danone ranks first in its readiness for ‘low carbon transition’.  

Why it works.

When it comes to brands, consumers value authenticity highly. Our latest Hispanic research shows:

60% of U.S. consumers find authenticity to be the most appealing quality of their favorite brands.

Combining this with the 61% of consumers who say they’re likely to switch to a brand that’s more environmentally friendly shows that consumers appreciate brands that are open about their targets, especially those that demonstrate success from their efforts.

What we can learn.

Many brands shout about their successes, but when it comes to the environment, Danone has effectively promoted itself through its failings.

By highlighting its environmental shortcomings, as well as future aims, the brand demonstrates the level of authenticity and honesty that consumers desire.

3. Nestlé

What it’s doing well.

Nestlé have focused their environmental strategy on packaging.

The company is committed to making 100% of its packaging reusable or recyclable by 2025. And for good reason:

2 in 3 consumers think brands that make a public promise to be sustainable are more trustworthy.

Having received criticism in 2018, Nestlé has redeemed itself, becoming one of the front-runners in the carbon reduction race.

As well as its renewable packaging goals, it’s also aiding in the development of new approaches to eliminating plastic waste by partnering with Danimer Scientific, to develop a marine biodegradable and recyclable bottle.

Why it works.

From our latest research on sustainable packaging, the demand for environmentally-friendly packaging is growing.

82% of UK consumers who care about sustainable packaging say it’s important to them because they’re concerned about the future of the environment.

What we can learn.

As Coca Cola pointed out, the end the life of the product isn’t something you see in most diagrams or descriptions of the purchase journey, but it offers a great opportunity for creating a shared experience with a consumer.

Those brands that are clear, informative and even innovative when it comes to recycling, are well-placed to benefit.

4. Unilever

What it’s doing well

Often considered the sleeping giant behind some of the latest brand names in the CPG arena, Unilever is far from dozing when it comes to environmental activism.

As a conglomerate with brands operating within a number of different sectors, one of the ways it’s reached its sustainability targets is through buying up small, sustainable brands, and growing them.

The 26 sustainable brands bought grew over 46% faster than the rest of the business and delivered more than 70% of all turnover growth.

Why it works.

Unilever has always been vocal about its purpose as a business, looking beyond profit margins to incorporate the essence of the company in all its decision making.

From its own consumer research, the brand uncovered the increasing importance its customers are placing on sustainability, with more than ever buying sustainable items.

What we can learn.

Unilever effectively leveraged both its reputation for moral business decision-making, with its environmental focus to create a compelling message; one that drives brand-customer affinity and creates compelling connections.

5. L’Oréal

What it’s doing well.

For the largest and most profitable company in the cosmetics industry, L’Oréal, sustainability isn’t just something integrated into the business by outside pressure, it’s something the brand is taking full ownership of, and leveraging to elevate its profile.

According to Eillie Anzilotti of the Fast Company, “the entire industry supply chain–from where materials are sourced to what happens to the discarded packaging of used-up products–has the potential to leave a deep environmental footprint.”

To raise awareness of their sustainability focus, L’Oréal created a dedicated hub which encourages users to browse through its latest initiatives, campaigns and objectives.

Why it works.

L’Oréal have turned what is a major challenge (given their large carbon footprint) into an opportunity.  

The brand’s hub provides an ideal platform for exposure and transparency around their dedication and commitment to the cause, highlighting particular projects, resources, innovation and progress reports.

What we can learn.

By positioning itself as a thought leader in sustainability, the brand appears to set the benchmark for others to reach.

News/media stories and documentaries are among the most influential sources impacting consumers’ views on plastic waste and sustainability.

By turning one of its biggest challenges into an advantage, the brand developed a story that users can follow, in which it’s the hero, undertaking a journey to becoming carbon neutral.

Source: L’Oréal

Making sustainability a priority

It’s no longer an option for brands to ignore sustainability issues. As it becomes more ingrained in the brand-consumer relationship and purchasing, there’s clear opportunity there to win favor with the right approach.

These brands prove it’s possible to spread an authentic message that consumers believe in. The key lies in first understanding what they want, and what they expect, using deep consumer insight.

It’s time for brands to measure up by proving to consumers in an authentic and transparent way, their dedication to the planet, and in turn, the people they serve.

Find out what they want, and make it happen.

Click to access our connecting the dots 2021 report

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