Marketers to Update Their Sustainability Messages

Marketers use a number of strategies to attract consumers and build loyalty. These tools often go beyond personalization in emails Greenor exclusive discounts. One key strategy is to build affinity and this often means sponsoring a favorite sports team,  funding a charity, or showing concern for the environment. According to Young & Rubicam, marketers are going about the messaging for environmental sustainability all wrong.

The new information about marketers and sustainability was released during  the recent Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Young & Rubicam teamed up with author Chris Arnold to tell the audience that marketers are not appealing to all of consumers’ emotions when positioning themselves as sustainable. A basic green message is usually not enough to reach more than 15% of consumers. In addition, the strategy of using impersonal language like “carbon footprint, post-​consumer fiber content” doesn’t make a difference for most consumers.

A better strategy includes:

  • Stating specific ‘green’ steps a company is taking early in a message and leaving the technical wording for later
  • Emphasize purpose over profit and make the statement more emotional
  • Make the message more personal by using key company employees to communicate the information
  • Recognize that men and women react to these pitches differently and speak to them differently

The research in this field also encourages marketers in each industry to consider the 'green' profile that consumers have developed for them. Industry leaders can tailor their messages to speak to these perceptions and then tweak them to change general attitudes.

If you've been working positioning your company as 'green', have you used any of these tactics successfully? Or, do you think a different strategy is in order?


Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.