Marketing strategy buzzwords: Sustainability


Once defined by PETA and FEED bags in the early 2000’s, sustainability has become as capitalised a marketing tool as feminism.  As some brands show how to get it right, whilst others miss the mark, we look at how to expand your brand/client’s own efforts.


Create on-brand moments.


For companies that are looking to start implementing sustainable action points, the first step should be a backwards one. Consumers today are aware of branding efforts, so make it right for you.

Look to Morton Salt. Nothing seemed far off for them in their latest campaign, a video released on social media, which focused on food waste. Posters were made from dumpster dive food waste, and were hung in public areas, with phrases like “Look at this piece of garbage”.

The video shows the shocked faces of curious passersby, who have just read the contents of the poster’s make-up. Though a new message for them, Morton made sure it still lined up with their voice and product. 



Be transparent and authentic in your efforts.


There is no brand more synonymous with sustainability than Patagonia. The outdoor and active company implements efforts outside of the marketing scope, like providing supply chain information on its products.

There’s a reason that the company has not once been accused of faux activism; their ability to simplistically communicate their actions and ideals. Most notably when the CEO declared a lawsuit against the President Donald Trump over the shrinking of protected monument land, announced plainly on their social media and website.

There is no need for large brand activation efforts or hashtag frenzies. If the message is strong and authentic, it will resonate with its audience.



Choose your partnerships wisely.


British department store John Lewis has recently partnered, in time for Fashion Revolution Week, with The European Confederation of Flax and Hemp, for their global “I Love Linen” campaign. John Lewis, a company who historically has grown and used the material, was a fitting partner.

The timing near Fashion Revolution, Earth Day, and the Victoria and Albert Museum’s “Fashioned from Nature” exhibit make it a well picked collaboration for the London marketplace.

Partnering with a certain face or another brand is always a risk. If they do something to prove themselves untrustworthy, you are anchored right on to that sinking ship. So make sure that not only your message is ringing clear and in a positive light, but that there is no chance the partnership may cloud over this message.



Finally, don’t overlook the importance of inclusivity.


The statistic that the average woman in America is a size 16 or 18 is commonly used. Despite this, few stores that don’t fall into the fast fashion category cater to plus sized women. Brands like Eileen Fisher, catering up to size 3XL, is an exception, despite these sizes being a norm.

When you create an air of exclusivity in a socially conscious campaign, your credibility is immediately damaged. How can a brand champion positivity for one group, and exclude another? 

Look to brands like Reformation, the Instagram feed favourite clothing company utilising deadstock and sustainable fabrics. They recently added size options for certain styles up to a size 22, proving that any brand, even if already successful in the eyes of the consumer, can push their narrative to an even stronger place.


Want to read more on sustainability? Download WGSN Insight’s Sustainable Shipping and Delivery Strategies as a complimentary report. 

For more insight and inspiration, head to the sustainability section on WGSN.

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