Now more than ever, brands are “taking stands”—challenging the status quo, and their competitors. Sustainability, and how brands engage with it, is evolving and being driven by today’s social and political moment. Over the past decade, corporate responsibility and sustainability has risen in prominence to the C-suite and beyond.
In a recent webinar, we explored Nielsen sales data around consumers’ sustainability preferences. But there isn’t just one definition of sustainability—or one story of success—that truly encapsulates the full opportunity for existing and challenger brands.
Consumers tell us they look beyond the surface of the products they purchase to understand the brands behind them. Our research bears this out—consumers are putting their dollars where their values are, spending $128.5 billion in the U.S. in 2018 alone on sustainable fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) products.
For consumers, determining whether a brand aligns with their values often means more than taking a cursory look at the brand’s website or glancing at their Instagram feed. Consumers are looking for more in the moment when they decide whether to go through with a purchase or not.
The transparency imperative
Our research has shown that transparency wins with consumers, but the imperative for brands to take a stand requires more than simple disclosure. This isn’t just about sharing your full list of ingredients, but going deeper into how you source your products—and taking steps to actively support the workers who make that supply chain possible. It’s not just sharing your company’s diversity and inclusion performance. Companies today need to do more to invest in a robust talent pipeline that connects across varied communities.
For these efforts to be truly authentic, following through on these commitments outside of the spotlight is even more important than what you communicate externally. In short, it’s imperative that brands who want to take a stand build these efforts on the bedrock principles of transparency and authenticity—with real investments to support both.
"People want to associate and buy from brands that stand for more,” said one consumer. “It’s less what people consider corporate social responsibility in terms of programs, and more brands that have a personality and stand up for something,” remarked another.
A version of this article originally appeared on TriplePundit.com.