Richard Cope
Richard is a Senior Trends Consultant, bringing the latest consumer trends to Mintel clients through bespoke presentations and represents Mintel at global conferences.

Whether you’re new to sustainability marketing or you’re an experienced hand, with a subject as wide-ranging and all-encompassing as sustainability it can be difficult to know where to start.

That’s why we’ve created this handy checklist to help you kickstart your thinking wherever you are on your journey. We set out six questions for you to answer in order to make positive steps forward. Whilst the questions are simple, getting to the answers can be complex. Of course, these are all things that you can do yourself but you might find it easier, faster and more effective to let us help.

1. What does sustainability mean for my business?

In our experience, many businesses just aren’t clear on what sustainability actually means for them. Seek clarity from those at the very top of your business, preferably the CEO. Ask the key questions:

  • Why are we focusing on sustainability?
  • How serious is the business about sustainability?
  • How do we align and involve colleagues/stakeholders?

It may be that you already have a clear strategic direction and KPIs. If you don’t, or the answer is vague or unclear in any way, then this is the first problem you need to solve—and it’s a biggy. Don’t worry though; by running through all the questions here you’ll have a clear steer on what sustainability means for you.

2. What are my competitors doing?

An absolutely essential step is making sure you’re clear on what is happening in your competitive landscape:

  • Who is doing what?
  • Where are they doing it?
  • And—most importantly—who is doing it well and who isn’t?

When researching the competition, include similar companies in your industry, as well as similar-sized companies in your region. Comparing by location is important, as certain areas may have unique sustainability challenges.

3. What are the most innovative products/campaigns out there?

Once you are clear on what your competitors are doing, the next logical step is to get outside of your bubble. Go beyond the categories and markets you operate in to look for the savviest and most successful operators in this space. After all, there is a lot to learn about sustainability and much that can be applied.

4. What do my customers think, know and understand about sustainability?

Critical to any successful strategy is a deep understanding of your customer. Start out by looking at good secondary sources of research and insight. Our 2022 Sustainability Barometer provides valuable insight into what your consumers prioritise, think and know. Consider undertaking more specific primary research into your customers, digging into how they perceive you, what you are doing and what all this means for your brand.

5. Where is sustainability going in the future?

  • Is demand going to grow?
  • Will it become more affordable?
  • Which markets offer the most opportunities?

We’ll say it again: look to secondary sources first, but make sure you spend time working out what all this means for your business. Take time to quantify what these changes are going to mean for your products, brand and categories and then prioritise the work that offers the most meaningful corporate or commercial return for your business.

6. What’s the most effective route to develop sustainable products that resonate with consumers?

Innovation requires knowledge, ingenuity and focus. By answering questions one through five, you’ve gone quite a long way in gaining the knowledge needed. Next, bring the right people on board within your business—those delivering enterprise and creativity in abundance. Some may be existing team members, others may be brought in to join the project.

Simultaneously, introduce process to generate focus and urgency. We’ve learnt that bringing an external agency onboard to facilitate provides real impetus and drives value. Let them take the strain and steer your project to meet your business and customers’ needs.

We’re here to help

We know how brands are able to capitalise on the rich insights drawn from our proprietary data sets to identify the key motivations for end consumers. The in-depth research demonstrates how opinions have altered in the past year, and how different countries approach sustainability in different ways.

Customised, precise and creative. Mintel Consulting is a specialist team that can help you answer big strategic questions and identify your best opportunities for sustainable growth. We have a wealth of exclusive sustainability data available for you and your business.

If this interests you and you’d like to know more about how we can help, please get in touch.