Whether you're denying the existence of climate change or busily banishing single-use plastics, you're paying attention. So are your customers. For them to trust you, you need to be talking about this issue too.
In November 2017, David Attenborough's BBC series, Blue Planet II, became the most watched British TV programme of the year. In the first week of broadcast, it was seen by 14.1 million viewers. If you were living under a rock that year, here's a taster:
There is no question that climate change is happening; the only arguable point is what part humans are playing in it. - David Attenborough
The younger generation is more involved than they've ever been before. Greta Thunberg's School Strike For Climate inspired millions around the world to do the same. On March 15th this year 1.6 million students from 125 countries walked out of school, including 125 cities across the UK. If these guys aren't your customers now, they may well be in the future.
How this impacts your business
When individuals have a positive emotional association with a specific brand, they are 8.4 times more likely to trust the company, 7.1 times more likely to purchase more and 6.6 times more likely to forgive a company’s mistake. – Tempkin Group [2016 study]
For more information on how to communicate emotionally with your customers, read How to communicate with clients. Bottom line: we all know customers will buy from you if they trust you. Joining the environmental debate is another way to demonstrate your trustworthy credentials.
For example, for the first time last night, our Thai takeaway didn't come in plastic containers (see photo below)! We'd been saying that someone should find a more sustainable solution for months (or perhaps years!). Now it has, how do you think that makes us FEEL about that particular restaurant? Yep, more loyal, more likely to recommend it and probably more likely to eat or order from there more often (despite the fact that the last time we ordered it took far too long for the delivery to arrive.
So, what are you waiting for? Don't hang around, your customers will choose to do business with whoever has a sustainability programme they buy in to. Make sure it's you. How can you change your suppliers, redesign your product or optimise your internal processes to be greener?
This topic doesn't just impact your customer base, but your employees as well: they probably watched Blue Planet II, if not they may well be watching the latest BBC offering from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: War on Plastic.
Or, they've come across the nationwide Last Straw campaign or seen the removal of plastic cotton buds from the supermarket shelves. The evidence speaks for itself. Most people have an opinion on this subject and they're talking about it now. That includes your employees. Engaging with them on this subject is an opportunity to talk to them about something other than "buy this it's great because..." and to show that your values are their values.
You could create a 'Green Office Champion' role or create a cross-functional team to carry out a sustainability assessment. Whatever you decide to do, remember to talk about it:
1 To your employees;
2 To your customers.
Include this subject in your employee comms project. If you haven't already started, read Increasing employee engagement to increase turnover for practical tips on what you should be doing. Ask in your survey, create a cross-functional working party, just make sure you're doing something.