Let’s be honest: Businesses exist to serve their customers and make money. And one thing a growing number of people want today is to purchase from brands who are committed to sustainable business practices. More and more companies are demonstrably including sustainability in their content marketing with an emphasis on Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives.
It’s not just consumers who care about the planet and other social issues. Business partners and suppliers also want to work with sustainable companies. According to The Conference Board, “[E]very firm is pursuing its own sustainability story, and companies increasingly expect their suppliers and partners to help them meet their own sustainability goals.”
McKinsey is just one industry leader that believes sustainability will significantly change the B2B landscape, including expanding opportunities for substantial growth. Their research has shown that companies with more recyclable, low-carbon and biological products achieve better economic performance than their peers on the capital markets. They also gain higher shareholder returns.
On the consumer front, 43% of global consumers want to purchase more goods and services from companies who work to benefit society, even if they have to pay more, according to the EY Future Consumer Index. The Global Sustainability Study (2021) found that “more than one-third of shoppers will pay up to 25% more for products that take people and the planet into consideration.”
The one caveat to participating in the growing ESG trend is that people need to know about your sustainability program. When it comes to marketing sustainability, many companies haven't figured out how to infuse their sustainability practices into their communications. But not all of them. Several leading brands have figured out how to leverage content marketing strategies to let the world know they care about our planet and are doing their part to help make it a better place for everyone.
Here are four brands and some of the content marketing strategies they’re using to position messaging around their sustainability programs.
In May 2020, Intel published a press release to announce the release of its annual Corporate Responsibility Report. At the same time, the chipmaker announced the launch of its first global challenge, including achieving 100% green power, net positive water use and zero landfill waste, as well as expanding representation of women and underrepresented minorities in senior leadership roles. The latter is representative of the ethical component of mature ESG programs, incorporating practices of diversity, equity and inclusion as part of their commitment to social responsibility.
Further, the announcement included a short video embedded in the press release about its RISE initiative to be more responsible, inclusive, sustainable and enabling. View Intel’s most recent annual sustainability report here.
At Flor carpeting, sustainability practices are not a new endeavor. The company has been dedicated to making the planet healthier since the beginning, thanks to its founder, Ray Anderson. He built a company that makes carbon-negative rugs, which means they draw more carbon from the atmosphere than is released to make them.
Before sustainability was a buzzword, Anderson was a thought leader on the matter. In 2009, he gave a TED Talk on how his company embraced a “take, make, waste” industrial system, while also achieving sustainable results — growing sales and doubling profits. Today, the company continues his legacy and “Mission Zero” plan through a range of content marketing initiatives, including the production of a widely-acclaimed documentary, 2020’s Beyond Zero, which features the company's story.
As Chief Sustainability Officer at Apollo Global Management, Dave Stangis uses his social media platform to spread the company’s message about sustainability with like-minded, passionate consumers, employees, investors and the media. Apollo’s sustainability messaging goal is to engage its employees, and those employed by its fund’s reporting companies to expand ESG principles throughout the enterprise.
On Twitter and LinkedIn, Stangis uses his platform to regularly share insightful content on the intersections of sustainability, public health, food and technology. Among his recent posts is an article about the company’s long-standing practice of using ESG factors in investment evaluations. Stangis is also an active public speaker on corporate sustainability.
“Endless Possibilities of Zero Emission” is a fitting headline on one of BASF’s web pages covering its sustainability program. The page itself offers visitors opportunities to digest bite-sized chunks of content to learn more about everything from the company’s sustainable offerings to examples of sustainable solutions.
BASF is a performance product company with a “circular economy” mission — which means using resources wisely and designing products to achieve a minimum amount of waste and environmental impact.
Among the many companies engaging in ESG initiatives, some are just dipping their toes into the growing sustainability pool weighing risks and rewards. Others are already diving deep into helping create a healthier planet. In the process, they have developed their messaging and brand through content marketing projects that effectively communicate their position.
By promoting their sustainability programs, proactive, all-in companies are ahead of the curve in a trend that is growing into the wave of the future. No matter where you sit on the sustainability continuum, promoting your company’s sustainability practices can elevate your brand to a new audience. Whether you have a fully-formed ESG program or have identified sustainable practices that tell your story in a more meaningful way, there are opportunities to elevate your brand.
If the company is authentically embracing sustainable practices, highlight these in your content marketing plan. You will engage like-minded customers, suppliers and partners who may not have considered your business previously. That’s a win for people looking to do business with one who embraces sustainability. While another company’s journey to sustainability may look very different from yours, the ultimate destination is the same: Do your part to ensure the planet and its inhabitants survive and thrive long after we’re gone.
At Kuno Creative, we’ve worked with local, national and global brands to create content that showcases their sustainability efforts. Contact us for a consultation and see how we can bring your organization's sustainability -- or other ESG initiatives -- to center stage.