As brands consider how to make most of their advertising dollars, trends impacting the way consumers shop shape decisions on where to spend. It's hard to escape the buzz of retail media networks as THE defining trend in 2023, however, at the start of this year, Amazon Ads released a post as part of their coverage of CES and topping their list as a trend for 2023 is Media Sustainability.
In the post, Amazon Ads illustrates that sustainability is a top-of-mind theme across the industry and it is expected to become even more important in the coming years. As consumers become more aware of the impact of their consumption on the environment, they are also becoming more discerning about the brands they choose to buy from. According to Microsoft’s report "Rise of Sustainable Media" study, an overwhelming majority of consumers are concerned about climate change and believe that companies can make a positive impact on efforts to curb it through their business operations. Additionally, a large percentage of consumers are willing to stop using a product if they discover it has a negative impact on the environment. These trends indicate that companies will need to prioritize sustainability in all aspects of their operations to remain competitive and meet the expectations of their customers.
81% of North American respondents say they’d stop using a product if they discovered it hurt the environment.
Sustainability in the context of brands refers to the efforts of companies to minimize their negative impact on the environment and society, while also promoting economic growth. This can include implementing environmentally-friendly practices in production and supply chain management, reducing waste and emissions, and promoting fair labor practices.
Many consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the sustainability of the brands they buy from, and as a result, many companies are making sustainability a key part of their corporate strategy. One framework is the triple bottom line, which assesses a company's performance in terms of economic, social, and environmental impact. Another model is the circular economy, which aims to keep resources in use for as long as possible, minimizing waste and pollution. Companies want credit for their practices and are using sustainable branding to communicate their initiatives.
Ways that advertisers can promote sustainability:
Communicate the company's sustainable practices: Advertisers can use various forms of media to communicate the company's sustainable practices, such as recycling, reducing waste, or using renewable energy, to educate and engage consumers.
Highlight sustainable products and services: Advertisers can promote sustainable products and services, such as eco-friendly products or energy-efficient appliances, and communicate the environmental benefits of these products. Whether its through paid media or using their existing product listings on a retailer's platform, the more information, the better.
Walmart's Built for Better program
Amazon's Climate Pledge Friendly
Use influencers and brand ambassadors to promote sustainability: Advertisers can use influencers and brand ambassadors who align with their sustainability values to promote their message and reach a wider audience.
Use digital media and social media: Advertisers can use digital media and social media platforms to create interactive and engaging campaigns that educate and inspire consumers to take action on sustainability.
Use transparency and data-driven approach: Brands can use transparency and data-driven approach to communicate their sustainability efforts and progress. Consumers are increasingly looking for data and information to back up claims of sustainability.
Be honest, authentic and never greenwash.
Brands need to be honest and authentic in their approach, consumers are aware of greenwashing and will not trust a brand if they suspect them of it. Consumers are also looking for brands that take a holistic approach to sustainability, meaning that they take into account the entire life cycle of their products and service.
The European Union will police greenwashing.
Under rules set to be finalized this year, companies in the EU would need to substantiate claims that products are earth-friendly, or face fines. An official EU analysis found that 53% of green claims made in the European marketplace were dubious. The proposal would police claims after they are made rather than require companies to obtain regulators’ approval in advance.
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What happens to brands that ignore sustainability?
If brands don't advertise sustainability, they will miss out on opportunities to connect with consumers who are increasingly interested in purchasing from companies that prioritize sustainability. As consumer awareness of the impact of their consumption on the environment increases, so too does the demand for sustainable products and services. Brands that don't advertise their sustainable practices may be perceived as out-of-touch or even irresponsible by conscious consumers, which could negatively impact their reputation and sales. Not advertising sustainability could also mean that brands are less likely to be considered for partnerships and collaborations with other companies, organizations, and government bodies that prioritize sustainability.
From an internal standpoint, not communicating sustainability efforts could also mean that brands are less likely to attract and retain talented employees who care about working for socially responsible companies.
Thinking even longer term, not communciating sustainability could also mean that brands are less likely to be able to adapt to the changing market and regulatory environment as more and more countries are implementing policies and regulations to address climate change and sustainability. Better to get ahead of it now before you are forced to.
So what can you do now?
Achieving sustainability within a brand is not something that can be done overnight and it's a continuous effort. Brands also need to be transparent and accountable, they also need to be able to measure and report their progress. In terms of actionable and practical takeaways, companies can start by conducting a sustainability assessment to identify areas for improvement, setting clear sustainability goals and targets, and developing a plan to achieve them. Audit your Product Detail Page and update images, videos, and descriptions that highlight any sustainability features. Best of all, this one is nearly free to do.