What is sustainability marketing?

Defined by the American Psychological Association as "a chronic fear of environmental doom", the recent rise in ‘eco-anxiety’ is a great example of just how conscious we have become of the climate and environmental crisis.  To take back a sense of control we’ve turned our attention to the retail industry, demanding more environmental consideration to be taken by the businesses we support and the products we buy. This has led to a steep rise in sustainability focused marketing campaigns, involving the promotion of environmental accountability, social responsibility and cause led narratives to market products, practices and brand values. Take outdoor clothing brand Patagonia as an example. Created by founder Yvon Chouinard in 1973, Patagonia is considered by many as an ‘activist company’. They commit 1% of all total sales to environmental groups and use their social media to shine the spotlight on controversial topics such as overfishing and industrial farming. With an estimated revenue of well over two hundred million dollars in 2017 and the continued expansion of their company to include new eco-ventures such as Patagonia Action Works and Worn Wear, it is clear just how important being socially responsible is to both Patagonia and it’s customers.

How should you let customers know that your business cares?

According to Forbes, 88% of consumers want to support brands that help them to make a difference, meaning that your business has even more reason to make a public commitment towards environmentally friendly products and services. With over 50% of consumers more likely to buy from brands that are transparent online, one of the best ways of sharing sustainability focused information is on social media.  If a brand isn’t addressing the current climate or environmental crisis on their digital platforms, customers are far more likely to go elsewhere for similar products. According to a 2017 social study on corporate social responsibility (CSR) by Cone Communications: 
  • 68% of millennials bought a product with a social or environmental benefit in the past 12 months.
  • 87% of consumers will have a more positive image of a company that supports social or environmental issues.
  • 88% will be more loyal to a company that supports social or environmental issues.
  • 92% will be more likely to trust a company that supports social or environmental issues.

So what exactly do people want to hear?

Here at Semetrical, we have conducted a social media report that uncovers some of the most viral topics within the sustainability discussion through keyword tracking.  Of the 9 keywords looked into between 2017 and 2020 there were clear hero phrases which skyrocketed past the rest, as can be seen on our graph below. Using this information we can begin to understand which threads of sustainability messaging are proving to be most popular and therefore most effective.

When unpicking the ranking of these keywords, we are also able to see more clearly that “climate change” sits firmly at the top of our list, closely followed by “conservation”, “organic” and “sustainability”.

The growth and steadiness of each of the keywords we have tracked is also handy information to help you decide what area of CSR you are going to tackle with your social media messaging.  
  • Growth rate: is able to show us how much a keyword has been spoken about over a period of time.
  • Steadiness: is able to show us how consistently a keyword is spoken about over the same period of time.
 Whilst “climate change” remains the keyword with the biggest growth rate, we can see from our chart below that conversations around “food waste”, “organic” and “sustainability” are more steady.  This means that you are far more likely to be successful with your marketing strategy if you consistently talk about steady keywords and time conversation around volatile keywords such as “climate change” and “fast fashion” with mainstream breaking news or international days of awareness. 

When breaking down each keyword into its own graph, we are also able to see how well each has been performing between 2017 and 2020 and how significantly each keyword has grown in mentions. The stats below show us just how current the wider sustainability conversation is and how much it has grown in only the past 4 years. We can also use the individual graphs to consider seasonality or trending moments, allowing us to better understand and plan ahead when creating social media campaigns.  Whilst “food waste”, “organic” and “sustainability” are consistently on the rise, we can see peaks and troughs in “single-use plastic”, “greenwashing” and “fast fashion”. This type of insight allows for better planning and a real time data driven social media calendar to be created. 

How do you increase engagement with your new sustainability strategy?

Knowing what your customers really want to hear and getting that message to them go hand in hand. This means that increasing your social media engagement is vital if your new sustainability messaging is to be successful.  Our Semetrical social media team is here to help you make that happen! With the ability to create visually engaging content and bespoke social listening audits that delve into the real time content of keywords, we can help you create a social media campaign that people really do want to hear about.  Below, we have also laid out a 4 step approach to creating better social media engagement, so your new sustainability messaging won’t fall on deaf ears!