The 5 biggest trends in sustainability in marketing

With COP26 drawing to a conclusion, we felt it was an appropriate time to look at the top 5 trends we are seeing in sustainability in brands

  1. “Not harmful” is not enough

While there is a lot of net-zero targets (which is different to zero) the more leading-edge brands are moving from doing no harm to actively doing good. They recognise just reducing the impact they have and going forward isn’t enough, ideally, they need to adopt approaches that reverse the harm done in the past – from not bad to net good to now regenerate

IKEA is one brand moving in this direction – its ambitions for 2030 include  “Become circular and climate positive, and regenerate resources while growing the IKEA business. Create a positive social impact for everyone across the IKEA value chain”


  1. Two brand purposes.

In recent years brands have rapidly moved from a brand vision to a brand purpose. What we are seeing now is an increasing number of brands that have not one, but two purposes – an overall brand purpose and a brand sustainability purpose.

There are also different layers to sustainability aims, often at both a corporate and a brand.

P&G and its portfolio of brands is just one organization where this is happening.

  1. From E to ESG

Sustainability is more than the environment for brands; A broader three-pronged definition has been increasingly adopted

The scope of what is defined as sustainability has broadened from E to ESG. Sustainability is no longer limited to the environment but now includes Social and Governance as well. Social includes everything from health and wellness for employees to fair sourcing, while Governance covers issues like anti-competitive behaviour to tax or rather tax avoidance.

Mars now embraces and is acting on this wider definition


  1. Talking the talk, whilst walking the walk

Brands have learnt about the danger of green-washing, but when as they are increasingly getting their houses in order, they have realised that they need to find new and true-to-their-brand ways of talking about what they are doing.

Unilever allows its brands to develop their own initiatives and talk about them in that brand’s unique tone of voice. Surf and the Cleaner Planet Plan

  1. The best brands are built from within

Increasing brands are recognising the importance of having a coherent sustainability strategy, not just for customers, but for employees too. It plays an important role in retention and, even more importantly, recruitment. In this era of the Great Resignation, sustainability is an important draw for socially-conscious candidates. Many people have reviewed what they are doing with their lives, and if moving to a new job, want one at a company that is ‘doing more good than harm’

GSK is just one of many companies that have moved to shout about their commitment knowing their importance in recruitment and retention.

If these considerations aren’t on your radar for your brand, they need to be. As someone wise said, “doing nothing is not an option.”


By: Giles Lury

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