As marketers, we know that we need to be able to anticipate what will be coming over the horizon and be prepared for it. More importantly, we need to know what is already here, but has not yet gotten proper attention from companies, brands, and marketers.
One such topic is climate change and environmental sustainability. It has taken years for the world to evolve and come together to firstly acknowledge that there is an issue of climate change and then commit to do something about combating the issue. Through the Paris Agreement, there is a global level of togetherness, and in all probability, it is here to stay for a multiplicity of reasons. The time is now for marketers, if not sooner, to take the right action to not only support sustainability, but to do so by blending it into their core marketing strategies and into their day to day activities.
1) Societal Momentum. The physical effects of environmental ravage can no longer be ignored; therefore, it has generated momentum at a global level. It is very rare that an initiative brings so many governments from across the world together, because the need is felt and seen so clearly. This type of global action will undoubtedly give this space the much needed boost.
2) Companies Need to Deal with Investors. Investors are holding companies accountable for behaving in an environmentally sustainable fashion. For example, many large investment management firms / asset managers, are rebalancing their portfolios in favor of companies focused on ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance). As the momentum of ESG investing is picking up fast, companies cannot ignore the topic and need to adopt the right strategies to be socially responsible. And many companies have begun actively doing so.
3) The Consumer Perspective. Consumers, particularly the younger generations, are keenly environmentally conscious. They are willing to back only brands that are environmentally sustainable. They need evidence of action on how brands/companies are tackling the issue. This is also gaining stronger momentum by the month.
The Essential Truth
It’s imperative that marketers see the writing on the wall: governments, investors, and consumers care deeply about environmental sustainability. The momentum is building at scale, in this space. As marketers, we always have to do what is right for the planet, right for the society, and right for the consumers. It’s a principled stance on the one hand and a prudent business practice on the other.
This is not a call to action for a single brand – no brand can, by itself, save the entire planet. Brands around the world need to band together to be able to create real impact.
As marketers, where do we start? While it may seem daunting to take the first step in the right direction, there are plenty of coalitions for marketers to join, and you should evaluate which is the best for you and your strategies. For example, yesterday, World Federation of Advertisers, where I sit as the president, launched the Planet Pledge. Brands for Good also has an impressive roster of brands making commitments to prioritizing the environment. And there are many others.
Long Story Short
Marketers must pay attention to climate change and environmental sustainability. They need to evaluate their own strategies against this backdrop. Are marketers taking into account the global momentum behind climate change and environmental sustainability? Are they listening to the clear values being expressed by their investors? Are they observing the actions and expectations of their consumers? As marketers, we sit in a very influential position. We need to figure out what is right for our companies/brands and have a clear strategy on environmental sustainability baked it into our marketing strategies. It’s not only for the benefit of our brands, but for the world itself.