Some of the world’s biggest consumer goods companies are missing out on a golden opportunity to communicate about sustainability with consumers, a new report reveals.
Of the 195 major brands examined by our friends at Sustainly in The Big Brand Report, just 74 (28%) used their Facebook pages to communicate anything about sustainability.
Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Dove and Nescafe earn plaudits for their sustainability communication efforts on the social network, but they are the exception to the rule.
Most miss out on the chance to engage with their ‘fans’, because they choose to focus efforts on their corporate sustainability and CSR sites instead of social media.
“Corporate sites are fine for talking to shareholders, academics or NGOs,” said the report’s author, Matthew Yeomans. “But it’s not the first place the general public goes for information.”
Together, the 195 brands studied have a combined Facebook audience of over 749 million people – the number who have liked the brand pages and, therefore, receive updates from the brand.
However, the 74 brands that do communicate sustainability through Facebook reach just 304 million people – hardly small change, but still just 40% of the potential total. potential total reach. Of those 304 million, the report shows that more than 50% are “reached” by four brands that stand out for their sustainability marketing – Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Dove and Nescafe.
“If consumer goods companies are looking for the best way to affect a change in consumer behaviour, the obvious answer is through their brands – specifically utilizing the millions in marketing and advertising dollars that these companies already spend to persuade consumers to buy their products,” said Yeomans.
“Traditionally, brand managers have steered clear of talking sustainability through brands because they assumed that consumers just don’t care. But that sentiment may well be changing. A recent Nielsen study found that 55% of global online consumers across 60 countries said they were willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to sustainability. When it came to those much sought-after millennial consumers, they represented 51% of the total surveyed who said they would pay extra for sustainable products and 51% of those who check the packaging for sustainable labelling.
“Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Dove and Nescafe show how it’s possible to be informative, entertaining, transparent and authentic when talking sustainability,” he added. “And the engagement they get from their Facebook community shows that consumers really do care.”
Sustainly interpreted sustainability to include directly supporting social causes, standing up for diversity issues, promoting healthy living in accordance with brand values (and ingredients), as well as discussing thorny topics such as climate change and sustainable sourcing.
They chose to focus on Facebook because of the sheer volume of consumers the brands can reach through it.
The 15 companies (owning 195 brands) examined were: Associated British Foods, Anheuser-Busch Inbev, Coca-Cola Company, Danone, Diageo, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberley-Clark, Mars, McDonald’s, Mondelez, Nestle, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever.
The report, available from Sustainly, also highlights 20 case studies of brands that are doing well at sustainability communication on Facebook.
They range from Coca-Cola giving plastic bottles a second life, to Gillette’s Movember campaign, and McDonald’s having its suppliers tell their stories.
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