The Power of Brands to Shape Sustainability Consumption

By John Lawrence


In recent years, the importance of “going green” has gained prominence. The pandemic did not change that; in fact, “82% of consumers say that sustainability is more top of mind now than it was before COVID-19.”

With a focus on practising an altruistic lifestyle, it’s important to look at the role brands play in helping customers “go green.” After all, despite the focus on this cause, it is not many people’s natural inclination to make sustainable choices every day. They need help.    

What is the role of brands in bridging this gap?

Without a doubt, brands impact consumer spending habits. By leading the way with sustainable practices, they have the opportunity to help consumers make more altruistic choices. According to recent research from Deloitte, the top three reasons people have not adopted a sustainable lifestyle include: not being interested and not enough information. The third being products being too expensive.

These three issues could all be addressed by brands helping consumers live a more “green” lifestyle by bringing awareness to the cause. For example, active-wear brand Patagonia dedicates part of their website to inform consumers about their work with sustainability. They have available information for people to learn about why climate change matters, as well as resources on how to get involved.

How does a brand’s behaviour and effort move us toward a more sustainable world?

Campaigns and websites are not enough. Yes, those are excellent tools in helping consumers become aware of alternative habits; however, brands need to continually focus on improving their own sustainable practices.

One way to do this is to look for ways to embed sustainability into an existing start product instead of creating a new product. Nestlé is one brand taking this to heart with their ambition to strive for zero environmental impact in operations by 2030. Their efforts include, “scaling-up initiatives in agriculture to support regenerative agriculture and reduce emissions, and using 100% electricity on all Nestlé sites.”  

How do brands transform our consumption habits?

Brands play a critical role in helping us to transition to a new and more sustainable world. As Solitaire Townsend (Forbes Contributor) notes, “Brands influence our behaviours, our aspirations, our insecurities and even our definition of success and happiness.”

This isn’t happening without consumers' consent. In fact, 88% of consumers surveyed in the UK and the US want brands to help them live sustainably. It’s time for brands of all sizes to step up to the plate to help us change our consumption habits. This might include:

1.    Looking at how consumers use your products. How can you encourage them to change their use to be more sustainable?
2.    Talking to company employees. Where would they like to see a more environmental focus in the company?
3.    Exploring new products. As your brand starts to develop new ideas and products, how can they help consumers live a sustainable lifestyle?

Brands have power, and it’s time for them to start wielding that power for a more sustainable future.

About John Lawrence
John brings 17+ years of experience in brand marketing--both agency and brand side. Operating as a consultant for global, regional and national organizations, he provides Continuous Improvement (CI) projects from consultancy through to implementation across channels. As a member of the SGK Consulting Team, John has strategically led initiatives for some of the world’s most prominent brand owners to increase their speed-to-market, reduce costs in the marketing supply chain and better utilize their internal and external resources.