Kunal SinhaRegional cultural insights director, OgilvyEarth

PhotographChina and India are the engines of growth for the whole world and this creates a huge sustainability challenge.

Marketers can encourage the shift to more responsible consumption in these markets by helping people to re-evaluate their needs and by identifying sustainable commercial opportunities. It is time to stop presenting sustainable behaviour as an ideal and attempting to appeal to altruism or morality. The bravery of eco-warriors only creates distance between them and ordinary people.

In China, mainstreaming green behaviour starts by recognising that sustainability is already part of many people’s lives. They recycle for economic reasons. They sleep on straw mats in summer rather than turn on the air-conditioning. These behaviours need to be encouraged and the benefits need to be personalised. Most people won’t change how they live because it’s good for the planet.

OgilvyEarth, our sustainability practice, identifies opportunities for brands within the sustainable economy, and helps them to facilitate change and extract value. We offer a suite of services: audit of sustainability activities; program design; research to identify marketplace opportunities; access to sustainability experts; and communications strategies that place sustainability at the heart of the brand.

Leslie PascaudGlobal director of Sustainable Marketing Practice, Added Value

PhotographExperience has taught us that most people want to be more sustainable and responsible, but often don’t behave in ways that are coherent with their declared desires. Marketing services can help to align desires with behaviours by:

  • Understanding the barriers to behaviour change and designing strategies to overcome them.
  • Building bridges between sustainability and core consumer benefits (making healthy products taste better…recycled furniture look great… durable clothes sexier…)
  • Creating new social norms that drive behaviour change. The job of marketers is not just to respond to consumer demand, but also to drive change by generating awareness, creating a buzz and lobbying opinion leaders and regulators.

At Added Value, we try to help our clients define the sustainability issues or opportunities embedded in their value chain so as to develop the sustainability strategies with the best revenue generation potential.

The biggest risk lies with companies who attempt to sell sustainability without making the necessary changes to their business models. Consumers expect honesty and demand transparency. The only thing worse than not going down the sustainable path is trying to fake it.

Mandy PoolerDevelopment director, Kantar

PhotographNowhere is the gap between what consumers say and what they actually do more evident, than in sustainability. This is not duplicity – but in a world where economic pressures are severe, the trade-off between good intentions and price is very evident. The great challenge is to make sustainable products and practices affordable to the majority of people.

Marketing services needs to perform its classic role of creating demand. As corporations make their supply chain and products more sustainable, the role of marketing is to tell the brand stories that will create consumer demand.

Kantar Sustainability brings the perspective of the consumer (or citizen) into the sustainability decisions of corporations, brand owners and institutions. Our companies conduct research on a global basis into what people think of sustainable issues and offers and, via our behavioural panels, into what they are actually doing. Through the sustainability practices of our companies, we help our clients to identify the opportunities for future business growth. And we advise on the differences that will impact consumer behaviour and attitudes, and how and where to communicate those differences.

Flic Howard-Allen Lead counsel on sustainability, Hill & Knowlton

PhotographSustainability in marketing can be about self-denial and doing less. But if we want people to change how they live and consume, we have to make that transition desirable and compelling. It’s not necessarily just about doing less but about doing things better and differently. Marketing can be the creative engine behind the shift to sustainable development, providing inspiration and motivation and helping to clarify and demystify the complex issues involved.

A multi-layered approach is needed. Most customers don’t want to know the technical detail. It doesn’t mean anything to them. On the other hand, there are a small group of consumers and opinion leaders who do want the detail, and will be vocal if they don’t get it. As marketers we need to reach people on their own terms, and show why sustainability is relevant to their lives.

Through our Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability practice, Hill & Knowlton helps our clients to understand and communicate on these issues. Our services cover the spectrum of communications from issues analysis to brand and corporate campaigns. CR and sustainability mean different things in different sectors. So we create a bespoke team for each client that combines the right sector expertise, the right policy and technical understanding and if needed, colleagues from around the H&K global network.

Alex BraunVice president, Penn Schoen Berland

PhotographThere is a tendency for companies to pay lip-service to sustainability and initiate corporate and social responsibility (CSR) activities or green initiatives just for the sake of saying they’ve done it. They don’t know if these are the right initiatives to take, or if they’ve had any real positive impact. Did they increase the company’s corporate reputation? Did they help the bottom line from the long-term perspective? Have they been communicated properly?

Market research can give companies a real, undistorted perspective on CSR initiatives and their effects. Most importantly, it can measure the real impact of CSR on corporate reputation, consumer purchase intent and customer loyalty. This data can be used to fine-tune company approaches, and to make the business case through the management chain, and to create effective marketing that communicates the benefits of CSR initiatives to consumers.

PSB has worked on sustainability projects in the political and corporate spheres for a very long time, helping clients understand how sustainability can complement corporate and political strategy. Our Green Brands study, produced in partnership with Landor, Cohn & Wolfe and Esty Environmental Partners, explores the intersection between environmentally-friendly initiatives and branding.