By James Nnamdi 

Sustainability Copywriter and Content Strategist

9 October 2023
Sustainable Brands Are Losing Customers and What to do about it

Many brands and businesses are making commendable efforts to adopt sustainable practices. Yet, despite all the input, they are finding themselves losing customers to competitors who are perceived as more eco-friendly. The root of this issue lies in the disconnect between a brand’s good intentions and the often erroneous perceptions held by consumers. To address this challenge, brands with green stories to tell must prioritise effective communication and leverage the expertise of sustainability copywriters. Since customers’ decisions are often influenced by their perceptions, which can lead to unexpected challenges for eco-friendly brands, sustainability strategies must prioritise consumer perception.

This article not only explores the importance of closing the gap between a brand’s good intentions and public perception but also suggests practical ways to correctly and profitably embrace sustainability, having the target audience at the centre.

How Does Consumer Consciousness Impact Purchasing Decisions?

Once upon a time, brands could easily sway consumers with only clever jingles and flashy commercials. That’s not the case anymore. The modern consumer seeks a deeper connection to brands that share their values, particularly those aligned with sustainability. Consumer consciousness regarding sustainability is at an all-time high. According to a Nielsen survey, 81% of respondents from around the world strongly agreed that businesses should contribute to environmental improvement, while another survey reveals that 73% of Gen Zers would be willing to pay more for sustainable goods. Yes, that’s it. Consumers are increasingly prioritising eco-friendliness when making purchasing decisions. As a result, brands have recognised the need to align with sustainability practices to meet these evolving consumer expectations. However, merely adopting sustainable initiatives is not enough; effectively conveying these efforts to the audience is crucial.

The Challenge of Perception and the Problem of Misconceptions

Consumers may not be fully aware of the eco-friendly measures being taken by brands, including the ones they have remained loyal to. A recent study reveals that 70% of consumers wish to be informed about what businesses are doing to promote sustainability. Interestingly, less than half of them feel they are well-informed. 

This disconnect is often the source of misconceptions about a brand’s commitment to sustainability. The effect is, that it eventually reflects on the customer’s wallet. Additionally, customers may also eventually opt for competitors who are perceived as more environmentally conscious. Now that it’s no longer just about what’s in the shopping cart but what’s in the heart, eco-friendly brands must begin to pay more attention to their customers’s perceptions. Keep in mind that customers are humans with emotions and sentiments, not robots. The right way to do sustainability without still being viewed as an “irresponsible friend” must therefore include a deliberate effort to keep the audience well informed.

How to Win Customers and Avoid Being Black-Listed by Eco-Conscious Consumers

1. Invest in Effective Communication

If your brand promotes eco-friendliness, many people out there are looking for you as an alternative. But it’s not just about doing the right thing; it’s also about communicating it effectively. Without being able to bridge the gap between intentions and perceptions, businesses will struggle to build customer trust and loyalty. This therefore necessitates brands articulating their sustainability efforts clearly and authentically to their audience. How you tell your story matters a lot. It is important to recognise the vital role of effective sustainability copy and content in embracing sustainability. This is where sustainability copywriters can help your efforts. 

Sustainability copywriters are skilled at transforming complex sustainability initiatives into compelling narratives. They can highlight a brand’s efforts with stories that not only educate consumers but also create an emotional connection, fostering loyalty and trust. The good thing is, unlike others, they write to your eco-conscious audience in their own language, making them feel at home with your brand. 

2. Leverage Multiple Channels

Effective communication extends beyond traditional marketing. With the help of a sustainability copywriter or content strategist who intelligently employs persona insights, brands can effectively utilise various channels, including social media, blogs, newsletters, and video content, to reach a wider audience. Consistency across these channels helps create a coherent sustainability message.

3. Be Transparent and Authentic

Transparency is paramount when communicating sustainability efforts. A Sprout Social study on consumer trends found that 86% of consumers believe companies should be more transparent than ever, while 73% expressed willingness to pay more for products that guarantee complete transparency. Brands should be honest about their progress, acknowledging both successes and challenges. Authenticity builds credibility and trust, reassuring consumers of a brand’s commitment to making a positive environmental impact. This is what breeds real and durable customer loyalty. 

4. Pay Attention to Customer Feedback

Listening to feedback from customers is an important step towards trimming the perception gap. 

By asking for feedback, brands learn about what their customers think about their commitments. In addition to helping to determine how effective communication strategies have been, it also helps to quickly figure out what needs to be improved. Many times, the findings from feedback play an important role in the calculations of content strategists and writers.

5. Measure and Showcase Your Impact

Brands should quantify and showcase the tangible impacts of their sustainability initiatives. If it’s working, don’t keep it to yourself; shout it out to your audience. Metrics such as reduced carbon emissions, energy savings, or waste reduction can be powerful tools to demonstrate progress and maintain consumer trust.

6. Share Case Studies and Success Stories

Sharing real-life success stories and case studies that consumers can relate to helps to strengthen the emotional bonds between brands and consumers. Let those examples show that you are truly contributing to a greener future.

Conclusion

Now that eco-friendliness has become a major driving force in consumer decision-making, brands with green stories to tell must bridge the gap between their sustainability intentions and customer perceptions. Effective communication, powered by skilled sustainability copywriting, is the key to achieving this. By crafting impactful green stories, prioritising transparency and authenticity, and engaging with their audience across various channels, brands can build a stronger connection with environmentally conscious consumers. Closing the perception gap is critical not just for retaining existing customers but also for attracting new ones who share the same commitment to a sustainable future.

Ready to tell your brand’s green story authentically and win customers? As a sustainability copywriter, I’m here to help you navigate the tricky waters of eco-conscious marketing without the fear of greenwashing accusations. Let’s strengthen your credibility and selling power with words. Contact me today, and let’s get started.

James Nnamdi Freelance-sustainability-copywriter.-Bremen-Germany

JAmes Nnamdi is an environmental researcher turned sustainability copywriter; on a mission to promote sustainable and eco-friendly practices. The certified content strategist is helping to boost the credibility and selling power of Eco-friendly businesses with result-oriented copywriting. Click here to get in touch

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