Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - as the Recession Eases, Should Sustainability Become a Priority?

Marketing, October 14, 2009 | Go to article overview

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - as the Recession Eases, Should Sustainability Become a Priority?


As the economic recovery kicks in and the crisis abates, brands have more room for manoeuvre when it comes to signing up to carbon-labelling and similar ethical and environmental schemes.

YES - ANNE MURPHY, GENERAL MANAGER FOR UK & IRELAND, BIRDS EYE IGLO

It is often expected that, in a recession, sustainability and green issues can fall by the wayside. However, I believe that most businesses will have looked to the long term and recognised that operating in a sustainable way, regardless of the economic trends, is simply good business sense.

At Birds Eye, we recognise that our success as a business is determined not only by the products that we make, but also by the way that we interact with people and the environment around us. A thriving environment and vibrant, healthy communities are undoubtedly vital to our continued success.

We have a proud track record in promoting sustainability and have worked with conservation groups over the past 10 years, as well as having founded the Marine Stewardship Council with the WWF.

As we emerge from the recession, I believe that we will see sustainability issues re-establish themselves at the fore of brand agendas - for Birds Eye, and I think many others, they never went away.

YES - CHRISTOPHER SATTERTHWAITE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, CHIME COMMUNICATIONS

Nowadays I sense that competitive advantage for brands is no longer just about conventional marketing issues, such as price, product and availability.

It is increasingly being redefined by 'sustainable advantage' - that is, taking sustainability factors (such as carbon, packaging, ethical sourcing etc) and leveraging them for long-term sustainable brand value.

Insights from research conducted by Corporate Citizenship indicate that while we may still be in a recession, consumers are not easing up on expectations of brands to address these issues.

For example, 70% of consumers say that they value brands that act on sustainability, but most of them don't feel they are getting the right information. Moreover, brands that sell a 'sustainable promise', but don't actually show the evidence, are likely to be penalised.

The big message for brands that want to get ahead of the game is that there is a sustainable advantage to be had if they do their homework, find the right sustainability 'fit', and tell their story in an open and honest way.

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