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How marketing is taking on climate change

Why Companies should combine marketing and sustainability to ensuring growth?

Global environmental degradation, created by the depletion of resources such as air, water and soil, together with the damage caused to ecosystems and ever rising Co2 emissions is scientifically acknowledged as a fact. 90 companies are responsible for two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions and these include 50 investor-owned firms.

Some of the impact of environmental deterioration on business are indirect – for example, changes in how insurance firms assess natural disaster risk, whilst others are clearly direct, such as Coca-Cola’s concerns on water scarcity and IKEA’s on deforestation.

As new trends in how customers, investors, business partners, and regulators make decisions develop, corporate social responsibility (CSR), defined as “a self-regulating business model that helps companies be socially accountable to themselves, their stakeholders, and the public at large,” ceases to become a mere good to have health check. 16-year-old Greta Thunberg has become the face for a movement of millions of young people (some cynical marketeers might call future consumers?) protesting insufficient action on climate change by world leaders and businesses.

Customer-Obsessed Firms Act on Climate, says Forrester

At a recent LVMH event Bernard Arnault said he wanted to focus on what a business like LVMH could do to promote growth while also addressing the problems of climate change. Companies that listen to their stakeholders and take a stand on values, sustainability, climate resilience and adaptation are better poised to serve and retain customers today and in the long run.

Is communication playing an important role in Sustainable Strategies?

Organisations adopting the ‘3V’s’: Value, Viewpoint and Vehicle, are ahead of the curve in showing a willing commitment to sustainability.

The value: Companies need to understand and believe in the benefits of sustainability for their business. Sustainability combined with sustainable procurement policies makes a strong case for every business. No company can afford to be associated with deforestation, (corresponding to 10 to 15 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions) water shortages and water contamination in communities where the company sources raw materials or manufactures its products.

The viewpoint: Like marketing positioning or brand purpose, the company must determine what sustainability means for their business. For LVMH, a luxury category leader it means the preservation of nature and species used in their businesses.

The vehicle: To create trust, the conversation must extend beyond consumers to all relevant stakeholders, including employees or recruits, investors and environmental groups. Best in class communication skills are required to engineer the messaging.

Product marketing has a direct impact on product definition but also on packaging

In the US around 1.5 million tonnes of waste comes from paper packaging, while over 13 million tonnes of waste are from plastic packaging.

Companies are now turning towards eco-friendly practices such as reusable bags instead of plastic: the term ‘eco-friendly packaging’ is clearly more than a buzzword.

As millennials are pushing brands to be more socially and environmentally responsible, sustainable packaging is becoming a higher priority for both brands and consumers.
An example is being set by McDonald's who announced its packaging will be 100% renewable and recycled by 2025.

The physical impacts on businesses linked with the degradation of our environment are encouraging companies to invest in new processes and technologies to mitigate risk.

By practicing determined corporate social responsibility policies, companies can operate in ways that enhance both society and the environment, instead of contributing negatively to them.

Marketing and corporate teams, supported by their agency partners, should be at the forefront of this change management. They will need to adapt not only their practices but also their agency ecosystem to face these new challenges.

Florence Garnier- Partner

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