Data show that today’s consumers believe businesses should provide leadership in social and environmental aspects of sustainability, according to Sustainability from a Consumer Perspective, a 2007 publication by the Hartman Group, a Bellevue, WA consumer market research organization. Hartman studies indicate that consumers associate four broad characteristics with sustainable companies: 1) those that are not solely concerned with “the bottom line;” 2) those that offer extensive information about their products; 3) those that maintain supportive relations with their local communities; and 4) those that represent principles consumers agree with.
Sustainability initiatives based on improving employee and work-related issues create as much or more positive company image than eco-friendly or charitable corporate practices. Local narratives create a sustainability halo regardless of a company’s actual or specific elements of sustainability behaviors (“local” has less to do with physical geography than it does with places, people and traditions). The Hartman Group’s study found that “sustainability” is a consumer umbrella term for six key features:
- Social responsibility
- Environmental responsibility
- Simple living
Hartman suggests companies would do well to leverage these values in consumer communications, both linguistically and visually, to tap into consumer desires and the more emotional aspects of “sustainability.” Companies should seek to connect consumers to the people, places and products that epitomize the company, and show them how the company is part of a community.
For more information visit: GMA Research