Making claims of sustainability
Nov. 13, 2015
by Jeff Gelski
NEW YORK — Consumer packaged goods companies are more likely to use marketing than product claims to promote their sustainability efforts, according to Nielsen. Food and beverage companies, meanwhile, are more likely than other consumer packaged goods companies to combine claims and marketing when promoting sustainability.
In 2014 among all consumer packaged goods, 65 percent of total sales measured globally were from brands that used a marketing-only tactic while 29 percent were from claims and marketing and 2 percent were from claims only. The remaining 4 percent were from brands that used neither marketing nor claims.
The percentages were different for several food and beverage categories. In the coffee category, for example, 13 percent of total sales measured globally were from brands using marketing only and 78 percent were from brands using both claims and marketing. The percentages for the snacks category were 28 percent for brands using marketing only and 60 percent for brands using both claims and marketing.
“The heavier use of claims for consumable goods may indicate that customers consider sustainability a higher priority when buying products they personally consume versus those used around the house,” Nielsen said. “This presents an opportunity for consumable products that focus solely on marketing to add claims to their overall strategy for increasing growth.”
Nielsen defined “claim only” as a brand that directly indicates a connection to sustainability on a product’s label or packaging. “Marketing only” was defined as a brand that uses web sites, news coverage and other messaging vehicles to promote positive social and/or environmental impact in the local or global community. “Claim+marketing” was defined as a brand that uses a product claim and also integrates sustainability into its marketing promotion.
“While marketing good deeds is critical and expected by consumers, authenticity and credibility are essential,” said Carol Gstalder, senior vice president of Reputation & Public Relations Solutions for Nielsen. “Using multiple communication methods is important, i.e., third-party validation (news coverage), annual reports, affiliation with a respected non-profit or civic organization, employee volunteerism, advertising, or reporting actual work in the community on a web site.”
Nielsen conducted a global survey of corporate responsibility and sustainability Feb. 23 to March 13 of this year and polled more than 30,000 on-line consumers in 60 countries, including countries in Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East/Africa and North America.
Nielsen found 62 percent of global respondents said they were influenced to buy a product from a brand/company they trust. Two out of three millennials said they were willing to pay more for sustainable items. Nielsen found 45 percent of consumers said a commitment to the environment had the power to sway product purchase, which compared to 43 percent for commitment to social value and 41 percent for commitment to the consumer’s community.