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We had spent years immersed in raising awareness about our consumerism’s impact on the environment, something that increased during the pandemic when we realized that nature improved while we were standing still. People have long seen how their influence over brands and companies increases. We demand and require greater responsibility and commitment to society and the environment.

However, we see how consumers prioritize price over more eco-friendly options in the context of inflation and economic recession. 

Brands are all aligned: sustainability is the new code they need to follow. As we pointed out in our report Consumer Trends 2022, the quest for ethical consumption is already part of our lifestyle

of Generation Z are more inclined to purchase from sustainable brands.
Gen Z takes into consideration the ethical stands of companies when
they are purchasing from them.*
*Source: Consumer Trends 2023 Samy Alliance

According to Statista, 28% of companies plan to increase their investment in sustainable marketing by 10%, while 18% intend to increase up to 20%

*Source: Statista 2022
*Source: Statista 2022

According to this study, having a positive brand image and reinforcing consumers’ loyalty are the main benefits that brands look for when activating sustainable marketing.

The differences between Greenwashing and Green thinking

Even though we have evolved and advanced a lot towards a more sustainable ecosystem, many brands still need to catch up and adapt to the customer’s needs and desires. Some are at the top of sustainability, and others are still finding their way through it. 

So, what happens when a brand wants to progress on sustainability but still has a long way to go? 

In a deeper analysis, wanting to induce consumers that a brand is sustainable without being 100% sustainable sends the wrong sign to its audience, and they notice. It means that the brand doesn’t take its environmental impact seriously. Ultimately, the brand continues to prioritize economic benefit through consumer attraction techniques. The latter is what helps companies to opt for greenwashing, marketing techniques that make us believe that brands are more sustainable than what they truly are thanks to cardboard packaging or the use of green colors, making the consumers have a clearer conscience when they think that they are buying sustainably. The problem is that, with the access to information nowadays, this can easily backfire once the customers realize what is going on. 

The question is: can you communicate sustainability without falling into this unethical technique? What role should brands play? The opposite of greenwashing is green-thinking, introducing sustainability in the business, throughout the entire value chain and in all the company’s processes, from recycling to energy efficiency, through the incentive of responsible consumption, but always from the business vision and not marketing. They need to leave aside the impact on the consumer and do so in the definition of the business. From a communication point of view, this allows us to bring the consumer a message of constant work and sustainability involvement. The consumer will value the brand’s honesty if they share their current situation and sustainability improvement.

*Source: Statista 2022

“Both sustainability and digitization at all levels will be more relevant than ever; we must be skilful in identifying trends and opportunities in each niche. It is essential to be present in the conversation and in content formats that entertain and add value in addition to reflecting the brand’s personality.”

Adriana di Oppolito. LELO Marketing & Communications Manager Spain and Portugal

The power of Greenfluencers on sustainability

The scientists behind the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s latest report agree that “social influencers and thought leaders can increase the adoption of low-carbon technologies, behaviours, and lifestyles”. What does this mean? The sustainability movement is teaming up with leaders and content creators and reaching out to a broader audience, and that is an alliance the industry should be checking on because it is a space to interact with the customers and meet their needs. 

People are, actually, expecting from their leaders and influencers to be interested in environmental protection. A recent US study found that people think that around 40% of other people are concerned about climate and support climate-friendly policies when the actual figure is closer to 80%. Other people are nearly twice as supportive of environmental efforts as we think they are. Customers are already aware of the issue the world is facing and want to act on it. 

We need to connect with people through the correct messenger and with messages that matter to them. Influencers’ posts and stories live in our daily lives, and their lives can be more relatable than any other celebrity. Therefore, they are trustworthy, more than the brands themselves, and more aspirational than many people we know personally.