10 ways to simplify sustainability marketing

Published on
May 3, 2023

As consumers increasingly prioritise the planet and its people, businesses must adapt to meet these changing expectations. According to our research, 9 out of 10 shoppers value sustainability and ethics when making purchasing decisions, yet find it difficult to access meaningful impact information.

However, catering to the needs of conscious consumers can be a daunting task for brands, who must balance a plethora of complex information alongside price points and product benefits — not to mention the ever-present fear of greenwash. To help businesses navigate this challenging terrain, we've compiled a list of 10 marketing-driven, data-led tips aimed at winning over the hearts and minds of environmentally-aware shoppers.

1. Turn to the experts

Sustainability certifications from independent verifiers can help turn complex sustainability information into single claims and easy-to-read logos that shoppers can instantly recognise. We found that 85% of shoppers would trust independent verification over brand-driven claims, such as those found on packaging or in stores. 

So whether it’s condensing comprehensive ingredient lists into eye-catching symbols or outlining and simplifying the supply chain, it’s a good idea to turn to the experts to help win over today’s conscious customers. You’ll find some of the certifications we’re proud to be working with here.

2. Find relevant retailers

Shoppers love convenience; 64% like the idea of shops where they are assured all products are sustainable. Partnering with retailers like Cult Beauty, Naturismo and Holland & Barrett puts you in the minds of a ready-made audience of eco-minded shoppers eager to find the latest brands. Once you’re listed, there’s scope to negotiate features in retailer newsletters, blogs, publications, and more.

Shoppers are searching for sustainability: use the right keywords and search terms to boost your product and brand visibility

3. Utilise effective keywords

The lack of transparency around sustainability often leaves customers having to do their own research; over half of shoppers will read on-pack information, while 37% will check the brand website and 33% look in-store. 

Help shoppers discover your brand easily by investing in finding and embedding sustainability keywords or phrases in your product page copy. It’s a great (and relatively simple) way to help boost organic search engine results and ultimately lead to an increase in product exposure. 

4. Stick to the truth

You’re probably aware of the phrase ‘greenwashing’ and it’s likely your customers are too. It’s worth noting that while shoppers are catching onto misleading claims like never before, they also appreciate progress over perfection. As an example; it’s far better to say a bottle is made from 30% recycled plastic than make an ambiguous claim of using ‘recycled materials’. 

If you’re unsure, check out the Provenance Framework. Our open-source library of 80+ sustainability certifications and standards has been developed by leading independent experts to help brands communicate impact and avoid greenwashing. 

5. Make searching easy

Adding sustainability keywords such as ‘Vegan’, ‘Cruelty-free’ or ‘Recyclable’ to filters, suggested searches and main navigation categories on your website makes it easy for your customers to find what they need from you. 

Independent verification can also help you refine which keywords to focus on. We discovered shoppers are almost three times as likely to describe independent verification for sustainability claims as ‘very trustworthy’ compared to advertising or social media (including influencers and bloggers). 

Retailers like Cult Beauty are a destination for conscious shoppers to discover brands and products that align with their values.

6. Promote your credentials

It likely won’t surprise you that 90% of shoppers consider sustainability when buying beauty and wellness products - which is why you should be shouting about your positive-impact credentials from the rooftops!

Whether they’re researching the product on your website or making a purchase in-store, consumers want to be informed. Ideally, they should be able to see your sustainability credentials and progress at every relevant point in the customer journey. 

7. Find sustainability-focused influencers

With so much data available, it’s no surprise that 24% of shoppers zone into social media and influencers for sustainability information when purchasing a beauty or wellness product. With effective and considered collaboration, working with influencers is an invaluable way to promote your product to a highly-engaged and authentic audience. 

Remember to do your homework to ensure your values and ethics align; customers can see through an ingenuine partnership as a blatant #ad!

8. Consider your timings

Veganuary, World Refill Day, Earth Day - there’s no end of sustainability-minded initiatives and dedicated days to build a buzz around. This is a prime time to recentre your email marketing, paid ad copy, or social strategy (essentially any way that you communicate with your customers) and get talking about relevant messages. 

Not sure where to start? Download our sustainability calendar for free.

Turn to the experts: 85% of shoppers trust independent verification over brand-driven claims

9. Avoid jargon

Words like ‘green’ or ‘eco-friendly’ might sound like customer-friendly language, but realistically mean nothing without evidence to back them. 71% of consumers aren’t sure what ‘environmentally friendly’ means and 62% say the same for so-called green claims - so it’s best to keep it simple. 

Make your claims as clear as possible and talk to your customers with simple and concise language to help them understand your brand’s sustainability progress. Plus be mindful of legislation around terms linked to sustainability, as the ASA and FTC increasingly dig in on greenwash.

10. Work with Provenance

If you’re feeling excited about your brand’s sustainability journey, start with our shopper directory. It’s free to join and fast becoming the go-to way for conscious shoppers to find new and exciting brands. Not only that, buyers are using it as a tool to source new partners, and it’s a simple solution to make your credentials work harder.

Sign up here for free.

Find eco-conscious partners for your next social campaign

Read our curated list of sustainability-focused social media personalities in beauty and well-being, household and food and drink.