Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword or trend, its cries are being heard in every corner of the world and as a result, brands are facing increasing pressure to act more sustainably.
- Entering the new decade, the topic of sustainability will remain a top priority for businesses and they will continue to feel an increased pressure to deliver a positive change or risk losing key consumers.
- Transparency, responsibility and authenticity are key from companies and governments when discussing sustainability with the end goal of taking action.
- While it appears as though Gen Z and Millennials are leading this initiative, people across all generations are now feeling the urgency for change and companies are similarly noticing the need to take action in working towards a more sustainable environment.
“81% of global respondents, in a global online survey conducted by Nielsen, feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment.”
There’s no time like the present…
Although sustainable brands are not a new concept, they have become more relevant and popular in recent years therefore, action needs to take a step up now. After approximately 7.6 million people participated in the Global Climate Strike in September last year, making it the biggest environmental demonstration in history, it is clear that consumer environmental awareness is at an all-time high.
“While Gen Zers feel personally responsible to make a difference…. 90% also believe companies must drive action on social and environmental issues.”
This new sustainable desire is partly due to the changing way consumers are connecting with companies, it is no longer about selling the perfect product or providing the best service. While these are still important, what will give brands an edge in the eyes of their consumers is those that form a connection based on shared ideals. Sustainability has quickly become a focal point for many consumers.
When a consumer makes a connection with a sustainable brand, they are also showing the rest of the world that they care about the future of our planet. In today’s market, the majority of people are highly concerned about the environment and so, if a brand can show that this is a mutual concern, then they are one step ahead.
Sustainability is not restricted to brands employing recycling schemes and fair trade practices, they must look beyond this and evolve their supply chain, employee relations and the working space. Businesses that begin this transformation must look at how they source materials, use technology and allocate resources as an increased focus on these aspects will mean consumers trust in that brand will strengthen. The brands that take these first steps will raise the bar for all brand standards and a more sustainable way of doing business worldwide should arise.
L’Oreal is paving the way…
L’Oreal has heard and acted on their audiences’ desires by outlining a new sustainability plan for 2020 where they hope to reach a target of 1 billion new consumers by the end of the year while creating more products that have less environmental impact and helping customers make sustainable life choices.
The beauty brand has created a two-year researched plan, “Shaping Beauty with All", that covers four areas of sustainability: innovating sustainability, producing sustainability, living sustainably and developing sustainably. Some of their lead commitments to achieve by 2020 are outlined below:
- 100% of products to have an environmental or social benefit.
- Reduce the company’s environmental footprint by 60%.
- Empower the mantra “every L’Oreal consumer to make sustainable consumption choices while enhancing the beauty of the planet.”
- Provide L’Oreal employees with access to healthcare, social protection and training wherever they are in the world.
“Because we have ambitious plans for the growth of our business, the time is right to take a big leap forward and raise the bar for sustainability throughout the whole L’Oreal Group and across our entire value chain. We believe consumers are at the heart of our sustainability drive and we want to reach the next billion consumers while making a positive impact on the world. By accelerating sustainable innovation within our business, and harnessing the power of our brands to inform consumers, we will raise awareness about sustainability and encourage consumers to make more sustainable choices.” Jean-Paul Agon, L’Oreal Chairman and CEO.
As L’Oreal indicates with their “Shaping Beauty with All” plan, sustainability should not be considered as an end goal as there is no finish line, it is a journey, and L’Oreal has successfully taken the correct initiative and spring-boarded into a more sustainable future.
Consumers’ environmental awareness will remain and as a result, brands have a responsibility to try and integrate sustainability into their work. Sustainability is not a trend that brands can jump on, consumers see it as a non-negotiable requirement, therefore, by harnessing their creative ability, the advertising industry has the chance to bring sustainability to the hearts and minds of consumers worldwide to impact their current and future purchasing decisions with the environment's best intentions at heart.