— By Kristin Naragon —
Communicating a brand’s commitment to environmental impacts requires transparency in today’s omnichannel shopping landscape.
More so than ever, consumers are inundated with choices. For any given product or service, they have a seemingly endless list of options to choose from — meaning they have the ability to choose to support corporations whose values align with their own.
It happens more often than you may think; according to this Global B2C Survey conducted by our team, half of the 3,500 survey participants said that they would be willing to pay more for a brand that communicated its values to the consumer. Supporting corporations with values that align has become a critical part of the buying journey, and among those, climate change is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Over one-third of respondents in that Global B2C Survey listed “respect for the environment/sustainability” as a critical factor in their purchase decision.
We still have a long way to go, but from sustainability policies to ecological commitments, corporations in a wide range of industries are taking steps toward a cleaner, more sustainable future. If consumers are more willing to put their money toward a company that is working toward a greener tomorrow, then it not only makes sense for the environment, but it makes sense for a company’s bottom line as well.
But what exactly is the impact that brand value communication can have on the customer experience? And how can brands utilize their platform to usher forward a new era of sustainability?
To better communicate brand values to today’s consumers, the first thing that organizations need to understand is where and how customers are gathering information about their brand.
Shoppers today are omnichannel by nature, especially in a post-pandemic world. They are being targeted across multiple channels, seek out and discover products in their own time and in the most convenient place, and they learn about and buy products based on the information they find (and don’t find) regardless of what a merchant intends. And that decision of where to discover, learn and buy spans the gamut from search engines to social media, online marketplaces, to branded storefronts. ROBO (Research Online, Buy Offline) continues to be a growing trend for consumers, with almost 90% of shoppers saying that’s something they’ve done more than once.
With a seemingly endless supply of brands to choose from, consumers need only one bad impression of your product on any channel, either online or offline, for them to choose another brand’s product — or even not buy from your brand again.
To counter that, brands and sellers must deliver exceptional, enriched and consistent product experiences across all the channels on which they sell and market their products. Furthermore, nowadays, providing a truly robust omnichannel experience includes communicating what your brand is passionate about.
Take, for example, one of our retail customers, Bergfreunde. Bergfreunde is one of Europe’s leading e-commerce specialists for outdoor and mountain sports equipment. In 2006, they began as a startup and, with over 300 employees by now, inspire the world of outdoor sports with their extensive range of products.
All Bergfreunde customers are united by their love of nature. They are extremely environmentally conscious and concerned about sustainability. The team at Bergfreunde was looking for ways to better communicate to its consumers that they too were passionate about establishing a more sustainable future. Besides officially going carbon neutral and partnering with ClimatePartner, the team was able to incorporate simple filtering options for their digital store, such as “Recycled Material,” “Bluesign,” “PFC-Free,” and “Responsible Down Standard,” among others. This simple addition allows customers to easily select products they can feel good about purchasing and provides them with all the information they need about what the organization they’re giving money to actually values and dedicates resources to.
“Mountains and forests are the home of mountain enthusiasts and worth protecting for us,” says Johanna Krohmer, sustainability manager at Bergfreunde. “With our sustainability filters, we want to make it easier for our customers to make a conscious and sustainable purchase decision. They can easily filter products in a list selection that are, for example, PVC-free, contain recycled material, or bear an environmental seal.”
On top of that, Bergfreunde has its sustainability goals clearly outlined, annual carbon footprint reports that are released to the public every year, and eco-friendly partners listed and linked on its website. In fact, one of the first things your eyes are drawn to on its website is not its products or its sales, but a banner stating that they are carbon neutral.
No matter where the consumer is in their shopping journey or what touchpoint they find Bergfreunde through, there is no doubt about what the company stands for and cares about — creating an admirably transparent and holistic customer experience. By putting their brand values at the heart of everything they do, and by dedicating real money and resources to prove that they’re not all talk, Bergfreunde has managed to curate an experience for their customers that allows them to truly understand the organization and its values.
Climate change is an issue that affects us all, and consumers nowadays want to know that they’re supporting an organization whose values align with their own. With endless avenues to discovering your product and an almost equally endless sea of competitors, shoppers need only one bad experience or bad impression of your product to make them change their minds and purchase from a different company.
We are in a remarkable cultural shift where consumers are asking corporations to be vocal in what they believe in and be transparent about their values, and these consumers are willing to change their shopping behaviors in order to support that. Communicating clear brand values is now a crucial aspect of creating a positive customer experience, and taking definitive, resource-backed steps toward promoting sustainability within your organization can give users a better understanding of what your team stands for.
— Kristin Naragon is vice president of global marketing and strategy at Akeneo, a global leader in Product Experience Management (PXM) and Product Information Management (PIM) solutions that help merchants and brands deliver a compelling customer experience across all sales channels, improve product data quality and simplify product catalog management. Retail customers include Forever 21, Fossil, Staples and many more.