Recently, New Hope Network released a special report, Sustainability Marketing: How to amplify your brand's commitment, with surveys and data on how consumers want to learn about brands' efforts and transparency regarding their sustainability stories.
This special report dives into best practices compiled from industry experts' interviews on marketing challenges and opportunities around CPG brands' sustainability efforts. Consumers gather their information via a brand's social media and web platforms. They feel more connected when they learn more about a brand's mission. The founders of soup brand SouperGirl say they find the best engagement when they post videos featuring its founder and team members speaking directly and passionately about their food justice efforts.
Modern consumers appreciate genuine and transparent storytelling that delves into the details behind sustainability claims. The Sustainability Marketing report examines how U.S. consumers discover new products and educate themselves about sustainability. A key finding is that openly discussing a brand's sustainability strategies, although daunting, is crucial to establishing trust with today's consumers. For example, when you look at a brand like GoodSam's Instagram page (pictured), you can immediately tell that sustainability is central to the brand's mission.
Looking at Spinster Sisters Co.'s website (pictured), you can find their yearly impact report published publicly. Consumers applaud the brand's work to track and measure their impact. Putting it online, allowing anyone to look and dive in, builds trust through transparency. And backing it up with data like Spinster Sisters does is important. Brands need to be aware of marketing guidelines when making environmental claims. The Federal Trade Commission's Green Guides are currently under review, and tackling greenwashing is a significant touch point.
In a recent interview, Fred Hart, creative director of Interact Brands, said, "The wonderful thing about building a brand today is there are different channels to get out different messages." For example, online channels are a great way to share a brand's sustainability story more thoroughly than they could on the packaging, which has limited real estate. "When it comes to some of these social channels, use those as outlets to educate consumers on your brand's mission," Hart said. Doing so will help consumers feel more connected to a brand and create loyalty.
Read on to see more examples and hear from brands on how they leverage online platforms to tell their sustainability story. Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.
Sustainability is not just a part of Neutral's marketing strategy, but what the brand is built on. It's engrained in everything they do. Neutral makes it easy for consumers to learn more about the brand's sustainability efforts on its website through appealing infographics and concise messaging that is easy to digest.
In April, Neutral launched a campaign called "Milk for a Planet Worth Saving," which appears on Neutral's homepage, social media posts and videos from consumers and celebrities such as Heather Morris and John Legend.
Through social media, Neutral gathers real-life #planetworthsaving video testimonials by inviting consumers to post an Instagram reel with the tag @eatneutral to answer the question, "Why do you believe the planet is worth saving?"
The Planting Hope Company
Partnerships with coffee shops has been great at generating awareness of The Planting Hope Co.'s sustainable Hope and Sesame Milk. Here, A coffee shop customer @theroasterspack discovers Hope and Sesame and shares their find on TikTok.
When asked, "When do you begin telling your sustainability story, and how is it a part of your marketing strategy?" GoodPop replied, "It's important to us that our products are, first and foremost, incredibly delicious—it's easier to educate someone about your initiatives if they love your product first! Then you flip the box and explore GoodPop's purpose—our entire back of the pack is dedicated to all the good we do.
"We use the same strategies across our social channels—flavor profile and beautiful packaging are focused on first. Then we dig deeper into what makes us a better business as a certified B Corp and what our 501c3, the Pledge Good Foundation, does in your community."
When implementing a sustainability marketing strategy, it is essential to avoid greenwashing. The team at GoodPop believes that it's important to be specific about what they are doing, and being able to measure it in some capacity is key. They avoid greenwashing by not talking about efforts vaguely. Instead, they suggest showing people your impact with actionable numbers they can understand. GoodPop explains that it is easier for people to understand the impact of "GoodPop provided X number of meals through the Central Texas Food Bank" vs. "GoodPop donated $$ to X foundation."
The GoodPop team also advises, "We make sure to share the same key message across all channels. Our assets may vary, but the core message should always be consistent. We aren't perfect at this and are always improving. And staying consistent with our efforts—meaning, don't do something that is a short-term fix. Sustainability is a journey, and you have to stick with it and build those relationships with your partners that can help you get there."
To learn more about sustainability messaging strategy informed by generation and natural channel shopper insights, check out the Sustainability Marketing Special Report: How to amplify your brand's commitment.