An increased consumers’ awareness of such issues as global warming, air and water contamination, chemicals in food and diseases caused by widespread pollution has pulled the demand for greener products. As consumers’ concerns regarding the aforementioned issues are rising, companies should embrace a number of strategies to keep up with the growing demand for more environmentally friendly products and services. Furthermore, companies should develop a number of techniques to communicate their sustainable efforts effectively. Company has to work hard and consistently to acquire the reputation of environmentally friendly organization.
Effective communication of green attributes and commitment to sustainability helps company to enhance its image in front of stakeholders, draw consumers’ attention and build more profitable relationship with them. Consider the following tips that will help you to design effective communication strategy:
Put a strong emphasis on honesty and transparency
While crafting message for consumers or preparing report for stakeholders, honesty and transparency must be put on the forefront. Efforts to exaggerate things may back fire your communication strategy and, as a result, your company will be accused of greenwashing. To avoid this, emphasize things that are relevant to your consumers and their concerns, demonstrate achievements that are backed by real facts. Make product and packaging details more accessible to your customers. Provide a concise explanation of how product attributes, including green ones, can benefit your customers, environment and society in whole.
Austrian food manufacturer Kelly demonstrates a potent example. The company underscores, “As a food manufacturer we have a particular responsibility towards our consumers in three areas: Health & Nutrition, Product Quality & Product Safety, Transparent Consumer Information & Communication”. On its website company clearly indicates what kind of improvements they are seeking to achieve and what has been accomplished so far.
Confectionery manufacturer Manner expresses its concern in people's preferences in their diets by providing detailed charts about nutritional value of all its products.
Bioquelle states that its products are made from 100% organic ingredients. To back up this claim, company indicates origin of ingredients, provides complete details on each product nutritional value.
Boutiquehotel Stadthalle, the worlds first city hotel with zero energy balance, claims that sustainability is woven it its DNA. On its website hotel provides details on how its green building generates and saves energy, how materials and furniture affect the environment and people, what kind of chemicals are used to clean the hotel. Each year Boutiquehotel Stadthalle issues CSR report to communicate details of its sustainability strategy and achievements to customers and external stakeholders.
It is also recommended to mention details on how company empowers its employees and customers to act in an environmentally friendly manner, and how these activities are rewarded. Provide insights into work conditions and their relation to “green operations” within company. Describe how your company integrates sustainability in supply chain.
Some companies express their commitment to sustainability and ethical practices in the company’s mission statement, philosophy, Code of conduct, annual report.
Clearly communicate what 3rd party certificates, labels or green programmes vouch for your products or green efforts
Your closer involvement in partnerships with third party organizations can help your company or brand to gain credibility for your green activities and enhance your image in the eyes of your customers. The most popular forms of partnerships are 3rd party certifications, labels for consumer products, NGO partnerships, award programmes, partnership with non-profit organization, event sponsorship. Many companies also indicate their compliance with environmental standards and legislation. The key is to get engaged in partnerships with organizations that are related to your field of activity.
For example, on its website Zotter states, “Since 2004 Zotter has been a permanent licence partner of FAIRTRADE Austria. Zotter acquires the basic raw materials such as cocoa and cane sugar from fair trade in organic quality.”
Snack producer Kelly claims, “To communicate the origin of our potatoes as transparent as possible we print the native region of the potatoes on the back of each bag. This information is also certified by the TÜV (technical inspection agency). Therefore you can be sure, that potatoes from Kelly’s Chips are 100% from the region imprinted on the bag. 100% Nature from Austria!”
On its website Boutiquehotel Stadthalle showcases numerous awards it earned in the field of sustainability. Boutiquehotel Stadthalle was the first hotel in Vienna to be awarded with EU eco-label. Hotel was also awarded with eco-label of the Austrian Republic, Austrian climate protection award (Österreichischer Klimaschutzpreis), Green Brand Certificate etc.
Provide regular updates, ask for feedback
Make sure to keep your customers informed on all latest updates. Never hide bad news from them. Instead, demonstrate your commitment to find a better solution. Your openness and transparency will make your customers more loyal. Establish closer relationships with them and ask for feedback. Deep knowledge of your customers will help you to craft a better strategy and get ideas on how to improve your products.
Written by Natalie Myhalnytska