6 Things Brands Should Consider on Sustainability

What brands should do, which brands are already doing it, and why brands shouldn't feel ashamed - problems, ideas and solutions from leading marketers
Oct 9, 2019 9:45 AM ET

By Georganna Simpson

Michael Horn, chief data officer at Huge was speaking at a Campaign-Huge hosted dinner discussion for senior marketers in Orlando, Florida. The conversation explored how marketers can be champions for more sustainability practices, and was chaired by Campaign US editor Lindsay Stein.

Huge has carried out consumer research on sustainability and shared key findings from the study. Marketers from leading brands Sony, Bacardi, MassMutual and Chobhani came together to discuss the findings and share ideas on how they can harness their power to make the world a better place.

Here’s some of the key takeaways:

1. People are looking to governments and businesses to make an impact

Jennifer Halloran, CMO at MassMutual, said she hears a lot of customers say they can’t solve the problem as it’s "too big".

But that doesn’t mean they don’t care about change, believes Jessica Merz, Director of Global External Corporate Communications at Bacardi: "Consumers care and my hope is that they keep asking for the change, so much that it forces companies and governments to make the change happen."

2. Brands have massive reach and they should focus on championing change, not 'clever marketing'

Merz warns that some brands are using sustainability initiatives just because it’s "clever marketing", not because they are truly changing their practices. "I have a problem with that, you have to change inside the business – behind the scenes – not just care about it outside in your comms to win people over.''

4. Look at brands walking the walk

Merz said her company has also been committed to driving change, starting with eradicating plastic straws: "We have a bar in every Bacardi office and I realised that we didn’t need to use plastic straws anymore, back in 2016. So I sent a global email to say can we not use plastic straws in any of our office and it really took off. Now we don’t use plastic straws."

Merz said the straws were also a catalyst for the business to start finding other ways to become more sustainability:"People weren’t talking about it and it wasn’t in the media back then, in 2016, but we felt it was the right thing to do."

6. Unless there’s an economic incentive to change, businesses – and people – won’t

Merz said Bacardi looks at the big picture and everyone has a shared goal to improve the company’s sustainability: "Our products depend on clean water – so we have a real incentive to take environmental issues seriously. Sustainability is something that we’re all held responsible for."

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