As climate change and the planetary crisis continue to affect our lives, one thing is sure: we can’t continue to do business the way we used to.
For the past years, sustainability talk has been on the rise. Research commissioned by the WWF shows an increase of 16% in the public interest for the environment since 2016. Though this eco-wakening started a while ago, the COVID-19 pandemic served as a catalyst for change, with more and more individuals acting on their concerns and demanding action from companies. Growing awareness and respect for global issues has caused a shift in consumer behaviours: 73% of Gen-Z consumers state they are willing to spend more on sustainable products, while brands with sustainable credentials are favoured by 1/3 of UK consumers. With this marked shift in priorities, it’s clear that today sustainability is more important than ever. And to remain competitive, brands need to listen.
In this blog, we explore what sustainability can do for your business and five reasons why you should integrate it into your marketing and PR strategy.
What makes a business sustainable?
By definition, sustainability is the ability to use resources responsibly to meet present needs without damaging the capacity of future generations to support their own. But this does not just refer to the environment; sustainability centres on three pillars: social, economic and environmental, generally referred to as people, profits and planet. Sustainable business practices, therefore, are the ones that take into account these three factors and bring them all into harmony.
Green businesses operate with minimal –or no– negative environmental or social impact, using resources efficiently, producing minimal waste, paying and treating employees fairly and positively impacting the community. For a company to be truly sustainable, it needs to engage in a holistic approach, integrating sustainability into its operational aspects and business decisions.
Why is sustainability important?
Eco-aware companies understand the relationship between profit, people and the planet, delivering value to their customers while at the same time taking responsibility for their impact on society and the environment. By taking care of and improving the ecosystem in which it operates, a business creates an environment to flourish and develop.
In this way, sustainability doesn’t just benefit the planet; it can also bring many short and long-term advantages for organisations. Here are five good reasons why you should embrace it:
Improved reputation and brand image
Aligning sustainable actions with the right messaging can help improve brand reputation. Developing a sustainability strategy and communicating it clearly through eco PR is a great way to reach target audiences and gain new customers.
Consumers want value-driven brands. As demand for sustainable products keeps increasing globally, integrating sustainability into your corporate strategy becomes necessary. People show a marked preference for sustainable companies, giving you a definite advantage over competitors and setting your brand apart.
Attracting top talent
According to research, around 90% of Millennials and Gen Zs are trying to reduce their environmental impact. This statistic does not just apply to their purchasing habits; they expect the same from the companies they work for. Both sustainability and authenticity are essential for this demographic when choosing between potential job offers.
Purpose-driven companies are not only able to attract the right employees but also have better workforce morale and retention. People are more engaged and motivated when they feel like they’re working collaboratively for a greater good —in this case, a safer planet.
Adopting a sustainable strategy is more profitable in the long run, reducing costs and making your company eligible for tax benefits, savings and other government incentives. Though going green can require a significant initial investment, research shows it can optimise resources and processes long-term, reducing expenses in aspects such as energy or supplies.
On the other hand, increased public awareness and concern for ecological and social issues have made conscious brands more attractive to investors and stakeholders, providing a higher business value. Both investors and governments want to support and be associated with companies that strive for a positive impact and good reputation.
Embedding sustainability in business operations can help increase innovation. Looking for new ways to incorporate it into your company can serve as a motivating challenge for everyone, encouraging them to work hard to come up with new ideas and solutions to common problems and thus help improve operations.
Sustainability is no longer a trend; it’s a necessity. As global behaviours show a marked shift towards green consumerism, businesses must adapt to meet these needs to stay relevant. Being a planet-friendly company means incorporating eco practices into your business but also being able to communicate them effectively.