Communicating Sustainability In The Digital Age: The Great Marketing Opportunity

For businesses, “being green” is neither a trend nor an obligation but rather a moral duty. Knowing how to communicate effectively to the market and customers through digital channels is a significant and complex challenge that requires attention and skills. The point of Franco Giacomazzi, one of the leading marketing experts in India.

The relevance of environmental sustainability issues no longer needs to be brought to the attention of everyone: citizens, businesses, and politicians. It is so critical. For businesses, therefore, “being green” is neither a trend nor a legal obligation but actually a moral duty. Knowing how to communicate effectively in this orientation is a business opportunity.

In fact, the increased sensitivity of consumers means that in many cases, they are oriented towards Green solutions or products, if not even willing, to pay a higher price for products that respect sustainability and the environment. From these two aspects, the Green behaviors of companies and the effectiveness of their communication are not uniform but depend on their size, the sector they belong to, the corporate culture and the skills available.

We can summarize by saying that there are four categories: Green Compliance companies that adhere to the legal minimums and do not communicate; Green Image & Communication, which share more than what they offer and do in Green terms; Green Spinning companies that are highly committed, but communicate this characteristic poorly or poorly; finally the Extreme Green, good in everything, an example to imitate.

A Step Back: Business Transformation And New Marketing Paradigms

To better understand how to achieve this objective, it is appropriate to take a step back in time and represent the company as it was 30 years ago. To this end, I use the image of a small temple supported by three columns: Product in the center, the two lateral Production and Sales. In 2004, a digital revolution took place (not the only one!) with the arrival of Web 2.0, the two-way interactive internet, with consequent technological development, process in business communication, changes in the consumer’s value scheme (towards experientiality, sensitivity, emotion), with the emergence of new marketing paradigms.

New concepts and priorities come into play: value for the customer, the overall offer, integration along the supply chain, and the strength of the relationship with the customer, which becomes a critical element of marketing also thanks to the advent of e- commerce. The old model is no longer valid, and the three columns become in the center of the Value Proposition oriented towards value for the customer, on the side the Operations along the Supply Chain, and the Multichannel Communication Relationship.

This model suggests a broad Green review of a good part, if not all, of the company. Thus, the product requires a review of the design, of the materials used (which may imply the choice of new suppliers) and consideration of the possibilities of recycling and reconditioning in order to avoid immediate scrapping. The Supply Chain, in turn, suggests that we revisit the Distribution Chain, Operations and Process Technologies from a sustainability perspective.

The third column of the model is, as you will remember, the Multichannel Communication Relationship. It is characterized by two very relevant aspects: the choice of channels and the directions of communication, which have now become four by virtue of digital technologies since those from the market have been added to the traditional flow from the company to the customer and the market. Towards the company, within the market itself and within the company itself. Flows were made dramatically more intense and critical by the development of Digital Technologies.

Communicating Green Values: New Skills Needed

Making Green and sustainability an element of value to communicate takes work. First of all, it must be displayed correctly and consistently at multiple levels: Brand and Operational. Then, it should not be forgotten that the concept of sustainability is not appealing to everyone without distinction; thus, non-trivial messages tailored to the particular target should be adopted and inserted at the “right” (most effective) point of the purchasing process ( customer journey ). Finally, avoid telling things that are not true!

All of this requires specific skills of a professional and organizational nature. The first concerns multichannel and the four directions to ensure consistency, quality and effectiveness of messages along the various channels. Then there is organizational competence, which requires knowing how to coordinate the various activities sometimes assigned to different company functions.

A final point concerns the need to measure communication results (metrics). I do not intend to go into the measurement criteria or the related technicalities. Still, I want to remind you of the need for involvement at the management level to avoid the implementation of often elaborate systems that are not internalized, limiting the effectiveness of corrective interventions or, worse, giving rise to misunderstandings between professionals and managers.

Also Read: The Importance Of Creating A Solid Brand Message

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