“People are looking to brands for leadership on sustainability – and what they want is not being met so far. Brands should leverage this moment of increased attention and awareness.”
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
Huge’s study found that while 45 per cent of consumers report taking time to research climate change in the last month, only 25 per cent report changing their habits, while one fifth say they’ve chosen to pay more for a more sustainable product in the past month to combat the issue.
Consumers feel that the amount of change that needs to happen right now is beyond them believes Leland Maschmeyer, chief creative officer at Chobhani: “That’s why it does come to governments and businesses to make a difference.” 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.”
Horn believes there are beacons of passion in every company to make a change but warned people can still feel reluctant about expressing it. “We need to remove the stigma of people feeling fear of asking questions in companies, governments or communities. People must feel empowered to ask questions – to their bosses, colleagues and to their supply chains.”
2. Brands have massive reach and they should focus on championing change, not ‘clever marketing’
Brands have huge social influence – but they should use it sensibly. Huge’s research study showed that brands actually have more influence than the US government and political leaders at the moment.
They also found that heavy media coverage of the UNGA and activist Greta Thunberg’s recent Climate Strike barely shifted the percentage of Americans who consider climate change to be an important issue (3 per cent).