How to Increase Customer Loyalty with Sustainability Influencers
The need to save our planet and growing concerns about environmental challenges are changing consumer preferences fundamentally and have brought sustainability into public and mainstream discourse. Hence, greater expectations around societal issues transform consumers’ purchasing patterns and require the adaptation of marketing strategies.
Generation Z and Millenials more likely to Engage with Green Influencers
As for every marketing campaign, it is crucial to know everything about your brand’s target audience and understand their hopes, ambitions, and fears. The survey on Climate Change Activism and Social Media Engagement by Pew Research Centre shows that millennials and adults in Generation Z especially have high levels of engagement with the issue of sustainability. Hence, 75% of millennials and Gen Zers are willing to pay more for sustainable offerings, while 81% of millennials even expect brands to publicly commit to good corporate citizenship.
In comparison to older adults, Gen Zers and Millennials talk more, see more and do more about climate change. In fact, they are not only more active as users and followers, younger adults have also seized the opportunity to speak out and build a business on environmental ideas.
Compared to 27% of Gen Xers and 21& of Baby Boomers, 45% of Gen Z adults and 40% of Millenials have interacted with content on climate change with either following an account, liking or commenting on a post, or posting or sharing content. Among those who are most concerned with climate topics online, the predominant emotion is anxiety. Thus, while many climate-engaged social media users are angry about too little action being taken, they also seek motivation and encouragement on social media through climate change content. Furthermore, there is a high market gain for brands that emphasise actions and intentions towards topics of climate change.
Sustainability as a Term in the Field of Marketing
Although Sustainability has grown to be a buzzword, well illustrated by the more than 12,5 million uses of its Hashtag on Instagram, it is not something a brand can just assert to be.
The UN defines sustainability as follows: “Sustainable development has been defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. For sustainable development to be achieved, it is crucial to harmonize three core elements: economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. These elements are interconnected, and all are crucial for the well-being of individuals and societies.” (United Nations, “The sustainable development agenda.” ) Furthermore, the UN has developed 17 Sustainable Development Goals, so have a look at the video for a deep dive into the topic.
Generally, sustainability can be assessed along three following dimensions: environmental, social, and economic.
Graphic by Capgemini
In order to call your brand sustainable and to establish a transparent and honest partnership with sustainability influencers, your whole value chain must be revised. Starting from the product design, sourcing, to manufacturing, packaging, distribution, store operations, fulfilment, circular economy, and labour, sustainable considerations should be pursued.
Sustainability blogger Hannah Neumann started to give tips for a sustainable life on her blog back in 2011. Since then her following has grown considerably, attracting the attention of many brands. Before she would agree to a collaboration, she developed a protocol of basic questions about sourcing and labour practices, like a living wage.
Since sustainability is a sensitive topic, brands should be aware of their arguments and claims about their ethical and eco-friendly commitment. As partner and executive vice president of Digital Brand Architects Reesa Lake highlights: “The trust that they have built with their community is instrumental in their success. Luckily, social causes are no longer taboo subjects; they are being highlighted and with that comes new ways for influencers to work with brands.”
However, critical voices from the industry are well aware of the paradox of sustainability and consumption, as despite good intentions, influencers financially depend on brands and the core of their career, recommending products, often contradicts the most basic sustainability rule, which is that we can’t shop our way to a better world.
Authentic Partnerships with Sustainability Influencers
The previously mentioned figures show how lucrative it can be for brands to think about collaborations with sustainability influencers. Data from the French multinational information technology (IT) services and consulting company Capgemini in-house research institute states that customer loyalty increases by 77% through sustainability approaches, 63% of organisations report a revenue uptick.
Now that we have established reasons why it is wise to invest in green influencers, we want to give a few examples for successful collaborations. Four best practices for a flourishing partnership are: Awareness, education, choice to deeply embed sustainability in a brand’s identity and communication strategy empowers consumers and employees even-handedly. Value is increased to a great extent through technology as the core of sustainability initiatives. A robust sustainability governance is key for long-term credibility and customer loyalty. Lastly, an interconnection with a broader ecosystem stimulates a greater impact.
Sustainable content creators have most likely convinced their audience that they are sincere and knowledgeable. Brands can definitely learn and profit from that at the same time. Austrian blogger Madeleine Darya Alizadeh, better known as @dariadaria, is a great example for a sustainability influencer. She started her blog in 2010, which she stopped writing in 2017. Today she describes herself as an entrepreneur, author, and influencer who runs her own sustainable and ethical fashion label dariadéh and uses her instagram channel to raise awareness on topics of sustainability, the fast fashion industry, conscious living and human rights.
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