Weaving Sustainability Into the Fabric of Business for a Competitive Edge

Smaller brands can beat out key players if they capture the (now) significant and growing consumer segment that really wants environmental change, by weaving sustainability into the fabric of your business for a competitive edge.


With more than three million news and blog articles published about sustainability in just this past year, the conversation must not be ignored:

3-million-news-and-blogs-about-sustainability

Narrowing down our search to focus on companies that have made sustainability part of their mission statement, we have a much more manageable number to work with:

narrowing-down-sustainability-conversation

We’ll explore how this emerging trend of sustainability should be a focus of any brand, as well as:

  • Sustainable consumer conversations happening now
  • Employees as your best bet for brand awareness
  • How to make sustainability synonymous with your company name

And sustainability is resonating:

  • 57% of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products
  • Companies succeeding at sustainability, tie it tightly to the heart heart of the workplace

Understanding Consumer Values Around Sustainability

In 2020, consumer behavior was changed considerably by COVID-19. But the pandemic wasn’t the only influencing factor for environmental awareness. Bushfires in Australia raged; endangered animals were driven to extinction; and, the great barrier reef experienced its third bleaching in five years, while arctic sea ice was reduced.

Consumers worldwide believe we need to consume less, and 57% of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products. It’s time for brands to get on board if they aren’t already.

Social media listening categorizes consumer conversation around sustainability. The conversation of eco-friendliness is immediately apparent and found throughout industries from fashion to food:

social-conversation-about-sustainability

This signals that ongoing sentiment monitoring is in order. Organizing our top clusters into a scatterplot enables us to view sentiment attached to different posts within a cluster, as well as those receiving the highest engagements. The size of the node represents sentiment intensity.

scatterplot-filtered-by-sentimet

As an example, the red dot highlighted signals negative sentiment. And the corresponding data point is an article all about eco-responsibility (or lack thereof) in the fashion industry.

This has been a hot subject. Combatting ‘Fast Fashion’ we see the second-hand market is expected to double in the next five years. Prior to the pandemic, it was already growing 25% faster than regular retail.

sustainable-fashion-instagram-post

With 88% of consumers adopting new thrift habits, brands are beginning to explore ReCommerce, including Burberry and H&M who introduced rental and ReCommerce models. Not only that but 66% of retail executives in the fashion industry are focused on testing resale for the environmental benefits.

But how does a brand make the switch in a way that comes across to its consumers as authentic and not just boarding the hip train?

That’s when having an ambassadors on your side is critical.

Engaging Employee Ambassadors 

Employees that genuinely love your company should be recruited to interact online, on behalf of your brand. This can be empowering for them and advantageous for you.

Most employees already have an active online presence, and most will do it if you’ve built a trusting relationship. Fifty-eight percent of employees look to their employer as a trustworthy source of information, and 33% of these are more likely to engage in actions that benefit the company.

Let’s take the brand Fenti, for example. Rihanna has woven sustainability into her fashion brand. Especially when it comes to skincare, which boasts a vegan and earth-conscious system. Rihanna is her own brand ambassador. Assuming you’re monitoring someone less viral though (as most employees are not Rihanna), you’ll be able to track their activity (with their permission) in NetBase:

dashboard-templates-showing-owned-channel-performance

And then brand analysis also allows a company to view ambassador/influencer discussions, including locating op attributes or trending terms. The top brand term for Fenti is environment:

influencer-brand-discussion

Additionally, 76%  percent of consumers are more likely to trust people over brands. Content shared by staff members will go 561% further than when shared via the company’s official social media channels.

Not only do brand ambassadors resonate with consumers, but they resonates inside the office as well. It creates a united front between owners, managers and other employees. And this alone is a cornerstone for brand health.

Integrating Sustainability into Fabric of Company 

Many brands are just now considering sustainability. And if this is your company, you don’t want it to come off as an afterthought. It’s important to make it part of the heart of your company – a key component in your advertising strategy.

Companies succeed at sustainability when they can embed these practices and purpose into the heart of the workplace. It by creating unity between employees around the topic. Having a “shared purpose” can dramatically increase the success of a company trying to be more eco-conscience.

And understanding how sustainability is being talked about in the broader market is critical to planning campaigns and focusing energy in the right areas. This is something your employee ambassadors can help you with.

Market Research reveals a timeline of sustainable conversation from blogs to newspaper articles. Fashion is the biggest segment, but just above it, we see conversations signaling an emerging trend: companies integrating sustainability as a company goal:

timeline-of-conversation

As we look at stats, we can see this segment has high social engagement as well, and sentiment is 87% positive, indicating that people approve:

mission-statement-stats

Examining how both media and consumers view a topic is critical. Sometimes they agree and other times they do not. When you notice a discrepancy between them, it presents a potentially lucrative opportunity to explore. The social listening and market research combo will help you sort that out. We will too! Reach out for a demo and we’ll show you how.

media intelligence report renewable energy

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