Can you afford to overlook offering sustainable buying options?

Feb 25, 2020

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‘Going Green’ (and I don’t mean the feeling after one drink too many) is something that is often talked about. Environmental responsibility, and wider sustainability are key areas of focus across the globe for governments, industries, companies and individuals.

Over the last decade much of the talk about "going green” was around how cost-prohibitive it was. Consumer behaviour was mainly driven by price and that was about it.  Cheap price equalled more sales and bigger profits.  What was the point in changing things that would eat into the bottom line?

Over the last few years however, companies and consumers have begun to shift their thinking. Climate change and the effects of our buying decisions on the environment are highly publicised and this in turn has led to a change in consumers purchasing behaviour.

Strategic-minded businesses have realised they can no longer afford to put profits ahead of their customers and the environment. A 2017 Nielsen study found that 55% of global consumers are so passionate about the planet and its people, that they’re willing to pay more for products and services provided by sustainable companies – and this trend is on the rise. 

Take the millennial generation, for example. Half of those surveyed make consumer decisions based in part on sustainability actions and as they currently surpass the baby boomers as the largest generation and, therefore, the largest consumer base, this is a market that will define success or failure in the not-too distant future.

The study also compared sales results on sustainable versus conventional products and services. Year-on-year, it found a sales increase of 5% for products that promoted sustainability actions through marketing campaigns.

In comparison, brands without sustainability claims or marketing had a sales rise of only 1%.

The savvy businesses out there see a benefit to embracing sustainable practices to establish a competitive advantage and take advantage of an area of consumer focus that isn’t going away anytime soon and turn it to their advantage.

In the Ipsos MORI's 2019 Aviation Index survey for NATS (National Air Traffic Services) when asked if they would be willing to pay a charge or levy when booking a flight to help protect the environment or pay extra to choose a more sustainable option, 48% of people said they would be willing to pay a levy or higher charge to help protect the environment.

That's an increase of 8% from the 2018 survey - so you can see that the importance isn’t diminishing 

Companies are starting to realise the benefits of sustainable practices and options.  Smart, sustainable decisions and products actually save money.  Reducing usage translates into decreased costs, and engaging employees and yields lower, slower turnover. Conducting business conscientiously can also have the added perk of increasing revenue through brand-consumer alignment.

We have seen this first-hand from our customers but don’t just take our word for it hear what they have to say:

“Our ambition is to come up with a new way of doing business that reconciles economic success and social initiatives to make us a united and responsible company, driven by dynamism and the commitment of its employees.

We approached RDC Aviation who offered to provide environmental data via an API or custom dataset. We elected to go with the custom dataset and provided a schedule file that RDC supplemented with CO2 emission data so that it could be integrated with our internal data in a seamless way.

Our website now allows customers to view the most sustainable flight options in addition to the lowest price and recommended flights. This enables our customers to make a more informed, ethical buying choice and we have found by offering this option bookings of sustainable flights have increased within the last 6 months. This highlights our commitment to the environment and to raising awareness amongst our customers.”

Sustainability will continue to be a central consideration for businesses, particularly with the younger consumer and the fact that it isn’t an issue that is going to go away any time soon.

Any company can successfully use sustainable business as a platform to connect to their customer and employee.  It can strengthen your brand, gain a competitive edge over other market players, increase market share, cultivate goodwill and ultimately increase revenue.

So, the question remains can you afford not to be a sustainable business?

Charlotte Rendle

Author

Charlotte Rendle
Head of Sales and Marketing

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