by Greg Kishbaugh
Sustainability has moved to the forefront of many companies’ operating imperatives. This is a movement that appears to be strengthening as consumers are increasingly demanding environmental responsibility from corporations.
Unilever recently released the results of an international study involving 20,000 shoppers throughout five countries. The results showed that one-third of consumers choose to purchase from brands based on their social and environmental impact.
A market opportunity, according to the study, of €966 billion exists for brands that capitalize, refine and promote their sustainability efforts.
Twenty-one percent of survey respondents said they would actively choose brands if they made their sustainability credentials clearer on their packaging and in their marketing. This represents a potential untapped opportunity of €966 billion out of a €2.5 trillion total market for sustainable goods, according to the survey.
Within Unilever itself, the company has witnessed firsthand the economic benefits of a clear sustainable program. Brands like Dove, Hellmann’s and Ben & Jerry’s, which have integrated sustainability into their products, are growing at a rate 30 percent faster than the rest of Unilever’s business and these brands have delivered nearly half the company’s global growth in the past two years.
Interestingly, the report found that consumers in emerging economies were more purpose driven in their purchasing than those in developed markets. While 53 percent of shoppers in the United Kingdom and 78 percent in the United States stated they felt better when they purchased products that are sustainably produced, that number surged to 85 percent in Brazil and Turkey and to 88 percent in India.
Keith Weed, Unilever’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, stated that the research shows that in order to succeed globally, especially in emerging economies, CPGs must not only focus on product efficacy and price, they must aggressively demonstrate and promote their social and environmental benefits.