The growing role of sustainability in small business marketing


This article is sponsored by Rubicon

Over the last decade or so, we have seen growing concern for our collective environmental impact as a society and pressure for us to make real progress towards creating a greener and more environmentally just world. This is not the problem of any particular nation, generation or demographic group, but a concern shared around the world. An online survey conducted by Nielsen in 2017 found that 81% of respondents of all generations, genders and backgrounds believed that businesses should help improve the environment.

Their voices are heard and industry leaders are taking action. Many of America’s largest companies have announced their goal of becoming carbon neutral in the coming years, and we expect more to join us in the near future.

According to a study conducted by the US Small Business Administration, in 2021 there were 32.5 million small businesses in the United States which accounted for 46.8% of the private workforce. Can improved environmental and social responsibility also benefit them?

There are still many choices a small business, even one with limited resources, can make to become more environmentally friendly. These include:

  • Evaluate vendors or business partners and select like-minded ones. Provide employees with reusable cups and water bottles to reduce the consumption of single-use products. Print less and use PDFs or other digital documents whenever possible. Encourage employees to recycle at home and in the workplace and educate them on how best to recycle or dispose of commonly used materials. Work with local communities to educate on the benefits of greener practices; and Organize events to clean up public spaces or plant trees.

It is important to note that improving environmental responsibility is not an overnight process. It’s an ongoing effort that business owners should always be aware of. However, with this effort comes the reward. By improving sustainability practices and properly marketing those improvements, business owners can expect to see an increase in their brand loyalty, the caliber of talent attracted, and their overall bottom line over time.

Important for consumers

According to a 2019 Accenture survey of 6,000 people around the world, 83% of consumers think it’s important for companies to design products that can be reused or recycled.

About 72% of respondents are buying more environmentally friendly products than five years ago, and 81% plan to buy more in the next five years. Companies that properly market their sustainability efforts can expect to outperform those that don’t, especially to busy consumers.

Important for employees

Many job seekers express a preference to work for a company with sustainable practices. Employees want to be proud of the company they work for, and they’ll be much more productive when they work for a company they can respect and admire.

A 2016 study by Cone Communications found that 88% of employees find their jobs more satisfying when they know they are having a positive environmental and social impact. Eighty-three percent said they would be more loyal to an eco-friendly company, and nearly two-thirds wouldn’t even consider a job at a company that doesn’t have strong social responsibility values. . Additionally, in 2019, the New York Post detailed a poll that showed 52% of workers would take a pay cut to work for a more environmentally friendly company.

A 2019 study by McKinsey outlined five ways that improving environmental and sustainability practices have dramatically increased the value of many large companies. And these practices can apply to small businesses just as well. As I have noted before, there is a substantial improvement in employee morale and the caliber of talent a company attracts when it has greater environmental credibility. Additionally, companies have seen their revenue increase by making themselves more attractive to customers in both B2B and B2C markets. They also saw a decrease in operational costs due to reduced energy and water consumption and switching to more reusable materials.

Undeniably, there is great growth potential to make your business sustainable.

With so many cost-effective ways to do this, it’s no longer a question of whether all businesses should do it, but rather how, when and to what extent. No matter how small, making a change in the interest of improving our environment is always a change and, more importantly, a big step in the right direction.


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