As cost-of-living pressures increase, non-essential spending becomes a more cautious choice. Our proprietary Quarterly Tracker highlighted that intention to spend on small ticket items is at an all-time low.
The report also showed that for 30% of consumers a brand’s sustainability efforts are even more important since the pandemic. This contends with a Kantar study finding recently that some consumers now sacrifice sustainable options for the affordability of less eco-friendly choices.
As Leonardo DiCaprio (amongst others) said; ‘We only get one planet’. Along with personal responsibility, businesses and advertisers have a role to play in developing good practices and enabling consumers to make sustainable choices. Embracing the current cost of living challenges, how can brands both remain relevant and do the right thing for our planet?
Although increased cost pressures offer an easy excuse for brands to bow out, the sustainability conversation needs to remain at the fore. Our August QT also highlights the need for empathetic approaches including assessing and communicating environmental impact. Proactive measures by brands allow consumers to feel part of the solution, even if they’ve personally stepped back. We run our media plans through the IPA’s Carbon Calculator to understand the impact of individual channel activation on the earth, giving clients the opportunity to review or offset the costs, to further demonstrate their commitment to carbon reduction.
By conducting research, brands can discover which topics on the sustainability agenda matter most to each target audience. These insights can then be used to determine commercial and campaign priorities, shape decisions, and communicate in a way that attracts customers. For example, our video campaign focusing on Nuii ice cream’s support of animal conversation projects centred around being contextually relevant. This helped us reach those in the Nuii audience who are most invested in animal welfare topics. The campaign helped boost brand perception across both ‘cares about protecting wildlife’ and ‘is a sustainable brand’.
Consumers are savvy and can be quick to call out the tokenistic. Well-considered sustainability messages, rooted in authenticity, can prevent accusations of greenwashing. Continuing to invest in carbon reduction despite economic pressures is key. Even though consumers may be making personal compromises, they still want brands to keep sustainability on the agenda. Doing so now will drive long-term brand love and loyalty. A widely praised, impactful example of brand integrity would be from Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, who recently announced that he is giving away the company to groups fighting climate change. While an extremely radical approach, it aligns with a longer-term ethos, which has included advertising for repair and reuse before buying new products.
It’s never been more important for brand behaviour to be consistent. Brands need to back up their intent and insight with action. This includes conscious advertising, making choices in channel and message that indicate a wider sustainability ethos.