June 5, 2019
Many brands are changing their production habits. Indeed, some are using less plastic or less palm oil, some support local initiatives and circular economy. However, consumers are always pointing the finger at the veracity of these actions. Why is this so and how can it change?
Let’s take the example of a brand of coffee in capsules that are made of aluminium. Using that amount of aluminium is threatening to the planet, everyone knows it and it is said that the brand is increasing the phenomenon. To reduce the negative impact, the brand is taking actions against it by recycling used capsules and creating new capsules by reusing the old ones. However, when the brand tries to promote its positive actions, everybody thinks it is greenwashing and reject the actions from the brand. Why does this happen?
In people’s mind, brands cannot follow any CSR or environmental strategy. Indeed, after many environmental and social scandals followed by fake rumors on social media, people don’t trust brands anymore. All these elements are working in favor of a general loss of trust. The consumer is lost among all the information they get from the media and rumors they can read on the web. To restore confidence, the consumer needs evidence to really see the changes the brands are undergoing.
With this context of mistrust, some companies prefer to act in silence. Although they follow an important CSR strategy, they prefer not to communicate it to avoid being attacked. Indeed, they are afraid that if they promote what they do well, critics and media will snoop around to highlight what they do wrong and spread the word about it.
It would be an interesting strategy for brands to show to their customers what works and what needs to be improved. Not talking about the brand’s activity because companies are afraid of criticism is not a good strategy. On the contrary, companies have to show that they are trying to be part of a better model, a virtuous cycle.
On the market, new brands have the upper hand. As soon as they create their business model, they integrate the environmental component in their strategy and promote it right away - they start their business with an environmental clean slate.
Understanding and accepting that the margin of progress is wide is a strength for companies. Indeed, critics that highlight the negative sides of the businesses need to be also taken into account because they are a part of the consumer base. One interesting advice could be to create an open debate with critics to clarify the situation, to explain the strategy and convince people about the positive aspect of this strategy. It will allow the company to end rumors before they begin.
What we could conclude is that companies cannot avoid critics and it might actually be detrimental to not express the positive strategies companies are integrating in fear of negative feedback. The best is to explain the strategy, to show customers, competitors and critics that there is a path to change and that companies are allowed to follow it.
It is even better to understand that customers are willing to get more information.
Here are four reasons why you want to express what your company is doing for the planet:
- The first one is that consumers are making purchases based on their emotional feeling and not the rational ones. If you promote the fact that you are using recycled paper or that a part of your profits will go and help an association, consumers feel involved and want to help you with achieving this goal.
- All of your consumers believe in causes, and more and more are feeling embraced by the environment cause. If your company can reach its sustainable objective, consumers will follow you and will prefer buying your product rather than another product that reaches no cause.
- Show your commitment to sustainable and social issues before it is turned into a law. It will help you save money but also reach your customers
- You can also try to explain what you do to answer these issues by educating your audience. Promote what your company does using new tools such as videos or infographics. Pictures help people to remember better what they learn.