Two major food retailers have recently made the national news by announcing important moves they will be making to benefit the environment.
- Iceland is to ban the use of palm oil in its own-brand products because of the devastation being caused by its cultivation to the tropical rainforests of southeast Asia
- Waitrose is to stop using disposable coffee cups, familiar to those on its myWaitrose customer loyalty scheme, because their plastic lining makes them impossible to recycle
Very often, smaller businesses also have made efforts at going green through recycling and reuse of materials, energy efficiency policies and other actions. So should such initiatives be considered as potential elements in a marketing and communications programme?
We believe that they should, because they can both benefit the public image of a brand and influence other businesses into similar environmental good practice.
And there are excellent ways for even minor eco-friendly actions to be widely recognised and applauded.
Soft Power in Communication
As reported by the BBC, both Iceland and Waitrose will have their environmental initiatives in place by the end of 2018 and this will be likely to enhance positive perceptions of these brands with their customers and stakeholders.
Because of the scale of their operations, the story in each case is exceptionally relevant. After all, the move by Waitrose will save 52 million disposable coffee cups per year from being jettisoned.
Palm oil is used in 71% of food products and 24% of consumer goods, so the move by Iceland is an important step which hopefully other retailers will follow. Incidentally, the Bank of England also shelved the idea of using palm oil for banknote production because the product could not be sustainably produced.
The term “soft power” is frequently used in politics to describe the various means that nations can use to generate positive perceptions about themselves. For instance, the BBC World Service is widely recognised as an effective instrument of soft power for the UK with overseas audiences.
For businesses, the right social media channels can be excellent agents of soft power. Furthermore, activities undertaken to benefit the environment can be an ideal topic, and can showcase your own company’s values. So in other words, the narrative being communicated may not relate directly to a company’s core operations but it can provide insights into the ethics and integrity of a business.
Speaking out about these issues is what can drive change and ultimately put your company ahead of the corporate social responsibility policies of your competitors.
Proactive Role for Business
The environment is not a bandwagon to leap on but a global issue that requires proactive input from business for solutions to be found. Companies that are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint and improve the sustainability of their operations should consider integrating a green element into their social media marketing strategies.
By doing so, they can both enhance perceptions of their brand among target audiences and motivate the workforce by being part of a progressive company culture.
BBI Brandboost provides successful social media marketing services to clients across a range of industry sectors and has undertaken a wide variety of environmentally related programmes for clients. Please contact us if you have any eco-friendly projects you wish to communicate strategically.