CIM Marketing Podcast - Episode 62: The secrets to successful sustainable marketing

CIM Marketing Podcast - Episode 62: The secrets to successful sustainable marketing

How to be green - and successful
  • Explore expert techniques for sustainable marketing
  • Examine the risks of greenwashing - and how to avoid them
  • Ask which brands are winning the sustainable marketing challenge

Video coming soon...

Podcast transcript

Ally Cook  00:01

Welcome to the CIM Marketing Podcast, the contents and views expressed by individuals in the CIM Marketing podcast are not necessarily those are the companies for which they work.

Ben Walker  00:12

Welcome to the first ever CIM live podcast. This is the 62nd episode of the CIM marketing podcast which started was pioneered by James Boyd, back three years ago. And as the final episode of the season, we always break over the summer holiday period and then return in September. So it's been three years it's the end of the third season. We've there's some stats, I think, possibly flashed up on there at some point, which showed the growth in numbers we've had. It's been fantastic. And we've been lucky enough to get some absolutely fantastic guests with us over the three years. Certainly none better than the two we've got today to answer this questions about the secret of sustainable marketing.

And with us today is Emilie Stevenson, who is head of force for good for innocent UK and Innocent drinks very big brand. She's going to be answering some interesting questions about the good, the bad and the ugly of sustainable marketing that she's experienced in her her career. And Richard cope who's Senior trends consultant from Mintel looking into the nitty gritty of statistics behind sustainable marketing, what works and what doesn't, you know, what do we need to know as marketers, that what we need to do to improve consumer behaviour, individual behaviour to get the biggest impact? So Emilie and, Richard, welcome to you this evening. Thank you. It's great to have you here.

Let's start with a poll we asked our listeners and CIM members. What's your brand's biggest sustainability concern and there were a wide range of answers, measuring and reporting got 25%, as you may may guess, it's never easy. This one probably won't surprise anyone. perennial issue with all marketing, which is limited budgets and resource 41% felt they were being restricted by budget or resource. But 17% said the biggest problem is not knowing where to start sustainable marketing and 70% which is another non trivial figure. So being accused with greenwashing. And when we Emilie Stevenson, oh, have you ever experienced being accused of green washing?

Emilie Stephenson  02:36

Straight in! I wanted to just explain my title before and this is not a politician's answer, I will answer your question. But when I say I'm head of force for good people genuinely look at me with weird eyes. And we say force for good. The word comes from B Corp. I see lots of nods here. And if you're listening, just have a Google if you don't know what B Corp is that tries to have businesses as a force for good. It does sound like I'm out of Star Wars. So I appreciate it quite right like that. But then our CEOs of Chief squeezer so this is a bit of a habit that I have it in a sense, but really it compasses ESG topics.

So in the case of Innocence, it's nutrition sustainability in our community, community projects. Anyway, that was the intro, I will now answer your question. And yes, I have directly been involved in quite a lot work on greenwashing. We had an ad this time last year actually the aired, it was an ad with a singing otter. It was a cartoon, the singing otter had a guitar as I'm mimicking here. So you can imagine what the guitar is. And he sang in quite naively he sang Oh, together, we're going to fix up the planet. And he used those words. And those words specifically, although it was in a context of aspiration, really led the ASA to sort of to say actually innocent, who do you think you are? They didn't say quite like that. But really, how you going to fix up the planet yourself? You sell lots of plastic bottles, and how can you justify, this is greenwashing. So it was a really interesting one.

We had lots of we worked a lot, a lot with them. And actually on this one, we agreed to put our hands up. So actually, we were probably quite naive for that ad. We took it down, we immediately went with them. But what we didn't do is stop talking about it. We have a heritage we have so much to talk about in sustainability. And I think it was a bit unfortunate that it came across with this otter who was probably being a bit too wide in his claims. What we did do straight afterwards, it's getting back on the horse and have a new campaign which is at the moment, which is a bigger project called the big rewild where we really worked again with the ASA all the tick boxes of all that you should be doing. So I'm quite happy to say that Innocent is still sustainability is really at the heart of what we do and how we execute it now is much more in line with what is what the principles of green marketing are.

Ben Walker  04:54

Now, a deliberately provocative question to answer the serious issue for all marketers, which is the second part of this, this poll is saying is that people don't know where to start. It's not even up to you all doing interesting and important sustainability work. You perhaps overstretched in that area. But you went, you went back to the essay to find a solution that that did work. So from that learning, you're talking to the sustaining the marketing industry generally, what is the best way of starting on this journey?

Emilie Stephenson  05:25

And it's a good point, because actually, there's a there's a point on comms, but really within us, it starts with the projects themselves and our commitments, whether it's in the areas of packaging in the areas of climate change in all the areas that concern our business, having some targets and being you know, understanding how you're going to meet them. And and talking about it. If you talk about it in a way that's going to resonate with your consumers that is legal, not overstating, that's doing the right thing, then really, it's not that hard. But you've probably got to start with the with the with the clay, and then you work with how do you make that work.

Ben Walker  05:59

But with the finding from this has to do with people, it may not be that hard once you've learned to know how but the finding from this suggests that people find it. The people are making mistakes in all companies are trying to do this stuff. They're trying to get it right. They're trying to do the right thing. They're trying to make an impact. We'll talk about impact a little bit later on, but people are finding it or that is presenting to them as a challenge. Richard, you've probably seen some mistakes?

Richard Cope  06:27

Well, I think building on what Emilie's talking about. And there's so we're kind of new, new lexicon, I think because we're all bogged down. You hear the phrase environmentally friendly, all the time, right? How can a product be environmentally friendly, it really is obviously, using resources to sort of get to that point. So I think, you know, we do need a new lexicon in terms of how we talk about things. I think, some of the other mistakes I see a lot in strategies, maybe rather than specifically marketing campaigns, it's I think a lot of brands are letting this become a consumer led issue. And what I mean by that is, rather than take the effort or respect their customers enough to educate them on what the real issues, are they happy to go with the flow sometimes.

So if I look at the amount of brands just being completely fixated on plastic free, whether or not plastic free might have a lower environmental footprint than the alternatives, compared with a brand like Patagonia, which I think 12 years ago, now, they weren't afraid to sort of act on customer feedback and say, why, why does my Patagonia jacket arrive in a plastic bag, and they respect their customers enough to explain why because if it didn't use a plastic bag, that good was gonna get damaged, and the environmental impact of that jacket being wasted on plastic, but not enough brands are ready to do that.

Ben Walker  07:45

So this is really interesting is that instead of accepting consumer feedback, as read, brands have got to challenge it sometimes. So actually, the trade off by doing what you just suggested, is worse than doing what we're currently doing

Richard Cope  08:04

And that's one thing, it's gonna be brand lead, not consuming that to some degree, Emilie Stephenson? Yes. So it's about all of the companies, they know where their footprint is, right? They know, we're going to be energy, rather than just pure a narrow focus on packaging, even if we include the energy expert packaging, but very rarely brands sort of having that conversation is I think the low hanging fruit is to do something, which for a lot of brands might be less impactful in terms their emission is probably less impactful on their bottom line. And that's the easy conversation to have. So I think, being brave enough to say no, that's not the main issue, the main issue is that and that's what we're at.

Emilie Stephenson  08:39

It's just quite interesting, because, obviously, we want to have our consumers at the heart, we want to make sure that what we do resonates with them. But if we take the subject of plastic, just now, people are going to talk about what they see what they touch what they feel, and that's naturally packaging. In our case. In any case, we have mapped the carbon footprint of from received from cradle to grave of our products from the moment the bananas and oranges are grown on the trees to the moment that the packaging is disposed off in a recycling bin. And actually, a lot of our emissions come from the beginning of the journey, which is much more difficult for people to conceive.

So we have done quite a lot of work to educate. Yes, there is there is a carbon footprint, there's an impact with packaging, but actually it's how it's grown, how much water you use, how you work with your farmers, what kind of lorrys is used to transport how you cut to the fruit. And that is also really important, but it's harder for people to get their head round because they want to also be able to do something. And they feel a bit more powerless with it's the beginning of the journey.

Richard Cope  09:39

Yeah. Can we just build on plastic a little bit? Yeah, I think it's interesting. I mean, when I did the research and Mintel, plastic pollution came out of the number three environmental concern and sometimes colleagues and other countries sneer at that saying, they realise that's not that big of an issue. But I think we have to think about, you know why it's such a big issue for consumers. It's a lot of what Emilie is talking about. It's the interfaces where people feel engage with the issue where they feel it responsibility. And of course, it's so visual, we see it all around us. So I think the lesson, the Insight really for me is you have to make the solutions resonate in a way the problems do, if possible, that's golden.

Ben Walker  10:14

And consumers just find some of those solutions a bit too esoteric to grasp is that that's the problem?

Emilie Stephenson  10:19

And it's not a simple yes or no, you've got to be aware of all the unintended consequences of, for example, changing or packaging or having a quick solution. I often say sustainability might be green, but it's never black or white. And people in this world wants a, you know, yes, or no, or good or bad. It's much more complex than that. And you need to have their attention for a set number of seconds and minutes to really explain the complexity of issues.

Ben Walker  10:43

So what's the key that when you've got a complex, sustainable marketing solution, and what I mean by that is one, it's not immediately obvious. The plastic thing is obvious. I've got the single use plastic, I've just chucked it away. I don't know if it's going to be recycled or not. I know, I can see that as bad. But there may be a bigger, the bigger issues or there's a trade off somewhere, when you've got a complex sustainability solution that you your tests your data, no, you know, it works. How do you sell that and me communicate that to consumers in an easy way that they can understand.

Emilie Stephenson  11:17

And that's where you bring back topics which they care about. So I'm going to plug in our latest project, which is called the big rewild. The subject of rewilding is really complicated when you go into deforestation when you talk about carbon and mapping out the carbon. However, what we know resonates with people is nature. And so and local projects we've taken we've done lots of work working to understand, Okay, what's important for people, and how can we use that as a way to then communicate bigger issues that are impactful for us.

So we're not going to give us the details, we're gonna give them the detail of all our our carbon footprint, however, protecting nature around you, and in our cases, orchards in the UK, where people feel close to you get them in through that. And then you talk about more complex topics, or in going even further, sometimes for us, you get them in sometimes with jokes and humour, and, you know, a human way of talking, and then you can get more serious because you don't want to be a depression session, either.

Richard Cope  12:13

I completely agree with that. I mean, our data would show that people do find statistics depressing. So the old adage of selling the same, the sizzle, not the sausage definitely come through, people don't see that, I think soft pedalling the stable element is something to seriously consider because, you know, everyone here probably, you know, understands, you know, the kind of maximum that you know, but value quality, these things are always going to become big for ethics and sustainability. And I think sometimes that gets forgotten.

Think, the brand that impressed me most in impleaded inception last year is that market in terms of their they did their freedom campaign last year, which was all about, you know, not lining up, like shaped by the new Apple or Samsung product, instead of being an individual decent spending time by pushing the individuality button, really soft pedalling the sustainability aspect. And they're doing the same thing. Now, you know, that pushing the money, you're going to say, by getting that product and downplaying the sustainable elements? I think that's really important as well.

Ben Walker  13:12

Well, that's an interesting point there, isn't it? Because there is, you know, in the store that we were talking about a little bit of greenwashing and the sort of pretended risk the occupational hazard, if you like of being seen, to be greenwashing, even though sometimes you're not creating it. When you work with brands, Richard and you are around which has sustainability as its forefront it's part of it.

It's part of its brand is proud of its bottom, its ethos, but if you're not one of those brands, if you're a brand that has never made any sustainability claims, yet you are doing good things, how do you say that? without risking that you will be accused of greenwashing? And that might be a slightly convoluted question. What I'm trying to say is, if you've never if you've never had sustainability as part of your brand, how can you weave it in to your brand without taking a risk of having to be accused of being green greenwashing, even if it is authentic?

Richard Cope  14:13

Think a degree of fallibility, degree in humanity is okay. I mean, you mentioned very obvious branding. But you know, Patagonia did its footprint Chronicles 15 years ago, talking about this is the impact of our brands straying off being transparent about that. So we work with a lot of banks who are looking at Green banking products, and they're very worried about the credibility factor of you know, I'll be crazy to try and launch something that people are gonna laugh that out of here because we know other parts of business doing that but in answering your question, I hope so because it's these big brands which have never done anything sustainable, which are the ones you know, your energy companies, your your investors, they're the ones need to embrace this and I think the thing thing to try and achieve here is all of us in this room have probably tried to leave more responsible life style, right.

We know how difficult it was and if brands communicate ate it as the journey they started on. And actually don't just put it to, this is the target. This is the end goal. Talk about where you are what you've achieved, be honest, if you missed your time by 10%, I think that degree of humanity, fallibility kind of chimes, because, you know, we're on the same journey. So think it can be done.

Ben Walker  15:17

It can be. The risk of greenwash, it doesn't always have to outweigh the reward of being green.

Emilie Stephenson  15:25

But often, as we were saying, it's about having those proof to points to prove to everyone and everyone is your consumers, your media, your stakeholders, your investors, that actually you're doing what it says on the tin, that the expression that you're actually that you've got something to fall back on. So for me greenwashing is having, is saying something that is just not true, or that you can't back up, if you can, and if you've got your website and the list of all the details of the actions that you're undertaking, and to your point about explaining why that target happened and why you miss if you've got that detail, you won't be accused of greenwashing, because it just won't be the case.

Ben Walker  16:04

But you've got to be totally on top of those numbers and make sure that you've got them absolutely right.

Emilie Stephenson  16:08

But you've got to do that in the first place, regardless of what you communicate or not. So but yeah, the number of you know you're walking down the street was it the other day, that was a carbon neutral estate agent, and I thought, okay, I gave them the benefit. They didn't have much space on that board, because they also said sold and everything that you put on an estate agent board. So I went on the website, Googled carbon neutral, and the name of the I won't mention estate agent. And there was nothing on the website to even explain to people what that carbon neutrality was about, which in itself is great concept.

But if you're not going to give those people who are interested, and the journalists are going to come after you because of course, you're an easy target and you have nothing to back it, then that's where it falls apart, had they had their whole website and everything underpinned behind. Okay, this is why we are carbon neutral. This is what it means. What does it mean for an estate agent? I don't know, what are they mapped out. But it just fell through that point.

Ben Walker  16:59

How good the brands you've worked with how good our brands are preparing that defence in advance.

Richard Cope  17:07

Depends if it's not great, a lot of them, I think the problem is terms of, you know, bad practices, a lot of people companies are, are doing this because their competitors are doing it. They're doing it for their image, which is a valid reason to embrace sustainability, you know, you're gonna gain from that, but they're not doing its part but altrustic approach to conserve their future resources, they should be doing it to make money. And you know, it's part of that I mean, that's often talked about, and it's certainly one of the worst campaigns I've seen in the last couple of years, the simple one was a Maltesers.

One talking about how they reduced the amount of plastic in their packaging, and quantifying it has been equivalent, I think, 28 times regular packaging, which my son would love, but he's those kinds of courtship metrics, which you know, really harmful to the entire industry, what people are trying to do, and then the notorious Burger King, one, where they have a low methane burger said the emissions were down 33% That only accounted for the last three months of the animal's life. Ignore the first 15 months the animal's life, and the small print said available at five, these five stores by Burger Kings global empire was selling so that that's the worst example I see. Nevermind the country and western song with cute kids dancing around coming out of cow's bottoms and things, the worst ones are out there.

Ben Walker  18:25

There's middle ground isn't they're the ones where people are doing something really good, but they seem likely overclaim. And as soon as you overclaiming, you walk into trouble. We heard of one CRM system at famous airline who I won't name made some sustainability claims about their carbon emissions per mile when they fill their aircraft. And, and they were nearly right, but they weren't quite right. And therefore it allowed these nasty journalists to come and say, that's wrong, and gave them about the bad publicity where otherwise they could have got some good publicity.

Emilie Stephenson  18:56

And rightly so I think it's that small print that's gonna come ever bigger, because people are going to be interested and not just the journalists who are all evil by the way, I'm gonna say what you say you're at your own profession. But yeah, people want more detail and they've got more time and social media, you know, it's not talking about the elephant in the room, the fact that you are now as a company asked to be more transparent, you have to have that small print and it has to become big print.

Ben Walker  19:27

What did you find? To them? You do it's a sustainability barometer momentum, which I dived into, and the thing that really grabbed me about it is that apart from the side from the marketing aspect of this, the impact of this can be huge, if we can aggregate consumer behaviour, much less so when we aggregate individual behaviour. So if we make micro changes to the way we behave, and you know we walk and stake in the car, and so on and so forth, we can make a marginal impact where we can't make the bigger power work. What really hit me from the barometer was the massive difference we can make if we aggregate changes in consumer behaviour.

Richard Cope  20:09

Yeah, I think the IEA said it's almost 60% of the emissions reductions required as a global society to hit net zero by 2015, is related least indirectly to our behaviours or choices or bias. So that, you know, we think consumer research is obviously important because of that. So it's key. I mean, obviously, when we ask consumers themselves, ironically, they don't think it's their responsibility. They think it's primarily government's responsibility. And in the case of things like increasing the amount of packaging gets recycled or workers rights, it's company's responsibility chiefly. Yeah, they haven't they haven't big role to play. And there's a lot of gloomy stuff we see in the data, but one of the positives is there's still the majority of consumers do feel they can have that positive impact that that comes through clearly in the research as well. It varies by country, but in general and jobs.

Ben Walker  21:01

But they don't tell you the right things to do. So to some degree, is it the consumers responsibility? Or is does the sustainability barometer indicate that? Yes, we want consumers involved, we have to but really, all we really saying, it's the brand's responsibility.

Richard Cope  21:19

It's a it's definitely a combination. I mean, yes, consumers don't hold themselves that accountable. But I think what's useful is to see what consumers think, on priority issues, and sometimes they're on the money. You know, they do prioritise climate change, they do prioritise to air quality, and they do priortise looking at plastic is an example of something less now, what's informative is to see what they're prioritising ask why and look at cases where maybe you're a company where you don't have any plastic footprint in your human footprint or something else. And you've got a job to do to educate them, that the issues you're addressing are important as well. So that comes frequently through stronger too.

Ben Walker  21:54

When you're producing that barometer, what opportunities did you find in terms of the way that we can change as marketers to make those sort of massive impacts that you discover possible?

Richard Cope  22:04

I think one thing you know, in terms of the practical side of things to the communications of bad news is majority of consumers don't trust brands, in terms of what they're talking about, rather than just covered in terms of what would make them trust brands, more, what comes through very strongly is, and this is very demanding, but you know, they want to understand the positive or less negative impact, they're having an individual product level, they want to be able to buy a package good and something on their shelves. And by buying this, you've done something better than buying this, obviously, it's consumption. So it's always going to have an impact, but they want to understand that having an impact product level, and they want, you know, we talked to them about the importance of value, they want convenience.

So kind of Nutri score labelling, we see which thing developed in terms of, you know, groups like monitoring things, they want that convenience, that it comes down, you know, they want brands, they can trust a thing. Ultimately, what they want is not not to engage the issues, but not have to spend time scanning QR codes or things like that he wants to go into a store and say, I trust this brand. I know, I don't have to check it in that way. So they want that convenience factor as well. That comes through very clearly.

Ben Walker  23:09

That's really the Holy Grail, though, is to be able to be trusted as a brand in that way, where customers aren't questioned.

Emilie Stephenson  23:18

And you've mentioned different different times of day, you know, if you're in a store, particularly for us in the chilled juice aisle, it's really cold. So unless it's a heat wave, like the moment, you don't want to spend too much time. So you want to know that you've got a brand that you trust, you build that trust, probably not in the five seconds that you're picking out your juice, but over the long term over all the other communications that you do, where people have a bit more time if they're scrolling their phone whilst they're on the tube, or if they're reading a leaflet back at home. So I think and then it's back into the whole long term, short term and all those marketing principles which are really true. Where do you build your brand? Where do you build your trust? And where do you do your short term activations? And it's gonna be a mix of both.

Ben Walker  23:56

We'd be careful not to advertise this podcast, but I think it's fair to ask you, Richard for some exemplars, which have managed to build up that sort of magic trust factor when people think that they're confident that they are buying sustainably from those brands, are there any that you've been able to identify in your work?

Richard Cope  24:14

Well, not in terms of asking consumers which are the ones that go to the ones we have to ask them that's 50 brands, but you know, clearly there's some retailers you know, like m&s, which are you know, are making this ploy. You know, clearly despite the flack it gets in the media, you know, a brand like Unilever is clearly built on that. And you know, they're all good at or IKEA. They're all good evidence of brands, which is sort of very mainstream. When we talk about in the case of white brands should do this, the choice consumers are getting in terms of being able to go for a more responsible or less impactful option is growing.

So whenever we talk to clients about you know, I'm convinced in the business case for doing that, really trying to hammer that kind of that home. In the long term it's gonna pay, I mean, I think going back to you know the mistakes brands make in terms of you know, what they're doing. I mean, they should they should be doing this to make money. Maybe this year might not be next year. But you know, this is about securing your future supply lines, it's about getting more customers keeping the ones you've got about avoiding compliance taxes. So yeah, does pay me that's the business case. And I think the ones that companies are often having more problems than the ones who aren't doing this to make money they're doing to just tread water, we'll do what our competitors do.

Ben Walker  25:29

That's interesting. If you're doing it for good commercial sound, commercial regions, you're more likely to succeed. And

Emilie Stephenson  25:34

I think for me, it's a balance the balance of people planet profit, then it sounds a bit like you're out of Miss World when you talk about these things, but it is genuinely true. And if you think of not wanting to go back to packaging, but we do get to it, you know, the plastic packaging tax, the fact that now we have to put 30% recycled content in our in our case in our in order products we've we've had we've been doing it for years, but the point is there is now a market value for recycled content. And therefore the circularity of circularity in the circular economy works in this instance, because there is a reason and yes, we want to we are advocating we are pushing the government to have deposit return schemes because then we can get good quality recycled content and it can the loop can loop. That's a that's a strategically financially sound decision. We need to be savvy about it.

Ben Walker  26:22

What's really interesting is that if you're if you're at the vanguard of this stuff, you can also push the regulation to into your favour. And that's brands that are doing well supposed to be doing Richard?

Richard Cope  26:34

Yeah, I mean, I think some of the best examples I see this are really kind of unsexy brands like you know, things like British sugar, you know, where they've got the sugar beat factory and all the soil that comes in on the beat becomes a top secret product, these are all their waste, that co2 line all that becomes other products. It's almost a completely circular, actually, well, the Co-op bank is something I've been doing some work with by aspiration credit card in the US recently, which is basically just the Co-op fronted by Robert Downey Jr. It's just like, a lot of it is in the spin. It's a lot of the sort of inspirational credible examples of people who are closing the loops or people who are you know, doing a wholesale approach across the board often aren't particularly well marketed or not badly marketed but they're not feeling the need sort of focus on that as much so I think a lot of inspiration can come from the ones who again under under selling.

Ben Walker  27:23

You did give an example of circular beer barometer is that circular beer?

Richard Cope  27:27

Yeah. Again, this comes back to this theme of resilience being a you know, key to economic driver for why a company should be stable so there's in Singapore we have circular beer there's a company called new water it's basically just recycling the sewage water from Singapore which you know, newsflash probably happens lots of things could shrinking as well, they have a brand in that way. Putting some local provenance on it almost like in a data craft water now they're doing beers which they're celebrating are from that source as well and putting some local providence to their craft approach which blocks you see more often. As we urbanised more and more cities are growing their own food projects. That's quite interesting, isn't it? The authenticity and saying, you drink this beer, you're drinking sewage, but you're doing, you're being good for the environment? Is that sort of honesty, authentic getting down and dirty?

Ben Walker  28:09

So you're going to, you know, take a double look and think it works, and it's gonna prompt you to think a bit more local, it's fine.

Emilie Stephenson  28:30

It creates, it's all a talking point. And therefore it makes it an interesting conversation. And, and people are gonna engage with it.

Ben Walker  28:38

Is that an interesting departure for brands, which food? Waste cleanup? A lot of what we're talking about here is reusing waste, not necessarily not creating it, because everything's going to create waste, but reusing it and use it properly. It's not an interesting approach. But if you can make waste sexy, then you're onto something.

Emilie Stephenson  28:59

I mean, I'm personally quite excited by waste. I spend a lot of time in, you know, I live just the opposite. The ones who have recycling thoughts, I've been a couple of times. And actually, I was just reflecting the other day that waste management systems not only aren't sexy, but they are by nature dirty, the factories are old, it's all good. You go to new factories, we've just got a new factory, and it's all beautiful and slick. And there is I can't believe there's not more that can be done in the waste systems to make it a bit more, not just sexy, but just up to scratch with the high technology that we have in in the beginning of the chain of a product again, I'm talking here from the Innocent point of view.

Ben Walker  29:37

I'm presuming it works for the circular beer, the sewage beer. It works.

Richard Cope  29:41

Yeah. Well, there's a lot of there's a lot of byproducts out there and food and drink and you know, what's Marmite? That's a byproduct to the brewing industry, basically, you know, and, you know, there's definitely a lot of that happening. It's literally happening in beers, as well as toast ale made out of bread waste, and things like that. So food and drink, it's starting to happen, and I don't you know, those kinds of things. People don't have an aversion to It's all about brands finding partners for their waste. I mean, in countries like China, if you don't find a supplier of your industrial waste, you're going to be in massive trouble with the government. And it's very forced closed loop if you like, obviously, we don't have the same society here. But yeah, I think again, it goes back to that point, it's all about cost saving

Emilie Stephenson  30:19

Bringing value to two wastes. And no, I say if there's no gold, or there's no, there's no silver lining in the ocean, because there's a value how do we attribute a value to these things in our, in our society, as it is?


Ben Walker  30:32

Our governments have been a bit easy on this, you said that you were pushing the government to make two out to introduce that back into regulation. You said, look, we're doing this, make everybody else do it. So are governments still a little bit too softly, softly.

Emilie Stephenson  30:48

I have to be careful here, more legislation in general? Absolutely. Yeah, we need to, we need to have, you can't have a first mover disadvantage, which is something that's quite interesting as well, you want the level playing field. And I'll give an example of France where, again, we're back to plastic, I do want to talk about all other topics, but plastics on some of the fruit and veg has been banned. And there's a study from rap, which says here in the UK, that you could quite easily not have as much plastic to wrap fruits like apples or pears, it's quite different for softer foods. But the point is, no one retailer is going to undo that, because from an efficiency point of view, it's much better. So unless you have government regulation to really put everyone on the scene that's not going to happen.

Richard Cope  31:35

Let's stay in France on the theme of regulation, you know, it has to be more carrot and less stick, I think in this country is quite a putative stuff, you know, changing sector, we look at things something like electric vehicles, things interesting in country like France is obviously Sheila John movement, because Macron did that kind of bundled fuel tax, which hit everyone the same level, and he's now learned, and instead it's like, right, we're gonna give 100 Euro incentives to people to lease vehicles. So in this sensitive part of it, I think, from a consumer level, rather than legislation on brown seems to be that's really in dire need.

I think there's a lot of deterrent and not a lot of incentives, what's going to get them to do it? We're going to talk about packaging this thing. I don't understand. I mean, Emilie might know more about me, but you know, why don't we have the same kind of reverse vending culture and things like that in this country, which is, you know, really on the president in Norway or Germany, in Turkey, Japan, it's things like that, which is, which is convenient, is visible? Yeah. And I'm recycling my look, everyone, I'm doing it in public, which is a great thing. You know, consumers love, you know, that's a low budget version, where people like driving around in Tesla's you know, there is that kind of desire to be greedy ego, I think. So I mean, things like that again tap in.

Ben Walker  32:46

but marketers do have a big role to play in any pushy governments. Which is literally what it is to do it, and you've had some success in that area. But marketers should know that they are actually, they have agency to push governments, if they're marketers for big organisation.

Emilie Stephenson  33:00

And that's the point going back to the point at the beginning about these are the proof points, this is what you have, you have to be answering those consultations, you have to be pushing your MP to win, there's going to be that debate in Parliament that they stand and they say, Yes, I support this. That's all the work that needs to be done. It's not visible, you're gonna have a marketing campaign about how you've influenced your MP, but it really need to have that in the background, because you need to be pushing. And, you know, in the government's favour, they don't have our point of view. So we need to be working in collaboration to explain how it comes to mind.

Ben Walker  33:27

We'll get to some questions from the audience. Shortly, we will give the audience plenty of chance to ask questions. But I'm going to do that annoying journalists thing now and try and boil this down to a binary question for you, Emilie. And for you in order to do that, what are your biggest do's and don'ts in sustainable marketing? So I'll start with you.

Emilie Stephenson  33:51

The best, biggest do is just do it. Just start somewhere. Don't be afraid. I think that's what we said at the beginning. If you're authentic, if you're genuine. And if you've got those tangible proof points of what you're doing, then you can start talking about it. And I'm not saying millions of marketing campaigns, but just being honest and genuine with stakeholders.

Ben Walker  34:13

What took me from the auto stories, it doesn't matter that much. If you make a mistake if you're being authentic, because you can easily recover from mistake. It shouldn't stop you doing it in the first place, presumably.

Emilie Stephenson  34:22

Yeah, and you learn I mean, it sounds cheesy, but you do learn from mistakes, right. And that's how we all learn. And that's how we can learn together collectively, so long as you don't make too many mistakes and you know, again that you're explaining where you've come from but

Ben Walker  34:36

Don'ts biggest Don't.

Emilie Stephenson  34:39

Don't over claim. Let's say you know if you've got if you've got your cynical think of your cynical friend in the pub, he's gonna laugh at you like what you want to be able to say to him, it's that you know, looking and looking in the mirror test or sometimes we call it the granny tests when you're running the granny test. You know when you're on your rocking chair, do you want to look at yourself and think okay, I was I was as authentic as I could. And I tried that I made a few mistakes, but fundamentally I was there, or which how do you want to live your life, but then probably a bigger even topic.

Ben Walker  35:09

Either first or second move is disadvantaged, given so great that he's had time to think.

Richard Cope  35:15

So I think, again, I don't use bullshit metrics about Tyrannosaurus Rex, as you know, use data with context. I think I think the crucial thing is you should be doing it to make money and succeed as part of strategy, not just to sort of do what the competition is doing. I think the other thing is, don't fall into the trap of thinking, a sustainable ethical product is going to sell just for those reasons. I mean, the first, barometer so we have this quote from John Lennon talking about selling peace and the peace movement, which was much ridiculed at the time. But he was making the point that, you know, we're trying to sell peace, like people sell soap or soft drinks. And that's really true. If you've got a sustainable soap sell it the benefits of being a soap first, and then the sustainable things third or fourth, maybe. So I think, you know, remember that as well, internet, soft pedalling, perhaps don't think it's just gonna sell.

Ben Walker  36:08

Do's biggest do.

Richard Cope  36:13

Try and, try and sort of make it part of an education process for customers, if you can about turning into a lecture. And think about the emotional benefits if you know, you know, people want to buy something, because it's going to make them feel good, or it's going to make them look good. Or it's going to make them feel smart. And then don't forget that I think often with sustainment of things, we just think it's got that holiness to it and that's enough. It's still a product, it's still a product. And it's not always enough on learning. Think of the emotion.

Ben Walker  36:42

Interesting. We're going to take some questions from the audience. So hopefully, we've got some hands up here and a roving mics and work. I've got a question. Lady in the back with dark hair.

Ally Cook  36:56

Thanks, guys. That was great. Super, super interesting. My question is more so for Richard with the sustainability barometer, and your work with brands, in your experience, is there still a big gap between what consumers say and what they do when it comes to sustainable marketing and buying sustainable products?

Richard Cope  37:14

23 percentage points? Yes. So I have some colleagues did some bad research a few years ago about you know, would you agree, you describe yourself as someone who tries not to damage the environment? So it's like asking someone, are you racist? So that 85% of people said, yeah, that describes me. And then if you look at the most basic or easiest thing we can do, which is supposed to benefit environment, something that recycling comes in around 57 percent.

So you got a massive drop off. So it's an apathy. So, you know, in the barometer, we try and avoid asking those kind of questions, which are easy to answer, try and make it more about what people do. So there is a there is that value action gap, but it's not just it's particularly strong in sustainability, but it's inadequate. If you ask people, is it important to lead a healthy lifestyle? So yes, look around us, really. And you know, the gap between people did you exercise in the last week? Goes down a lot. So it is that is a problem, in research, which we have to try and avoid. And, you know, obviously, there's a moment of truth when someone purchases, as Emilie was talking about, you know, when when you're actually purchasing, that's when that's when it comes to the crux. So there is that value action gap that needs to close. But it can be closed by addressing some of the things we talked about today, doing to appeal to other ways, giving them a compelling reason to actually buy.

Ben Walker  38:38

No more questions. Gentleman at the back.

James Farmer  38:48

Hi, thanks very much, everybody. It's really interesting. How important is how important is it's you think, to focus on the positives of sustainable movements, rather than negative data with you Emilie

Emilie Stephenson  39:01

Can start with probably got the data. Really, I mean, people look, there's enough sad and difficult stories going on in the world and in people's lives. So absolutely, bringing them those positive stories so that they can feel empowered, I always talk about the depression session, and when I give any talk, I have to have to balance the reality, which is pretty scary with what they can do and what people can feel empowered to do. So bringing those positive stories. And again, when we think about how we either market some of our campaigns, or even the work that we do at the start, the communication is really about how do you how are you positive making them feel good about themselves? Back to what she was saying.

Richard Cope  39:39

I don't know. I'm not gonna get you a specific stat. But it's certainly the majority of consumers, you know, agree that you know, kind of challenging statistics like climate change, you know, are depressing. So, you know, I think the worst kind of conceived campaign one would start off with glasses collapsing with a stat about that probably not a good way to start your campaign. And I think People are very familiar with that, I think, you know, with what we found in the barometer was that people's optimism, optimism levels dipped about whether we was running out of time, which people were shocked by my colleagues, I go, what do you expect, and they're just been hit by all this data around cop 26.

I think people's awareness has already gone up massively. So there's not really a need, I don't think to grab people's attention with these alarming statistics. And maybe the was five years ago, I don't think there's a need, I think cutting to the chase of you know what the benefit of the use of consumables is gonna make it feel smarter, looking better in front of your peers, like the ability to be impactful, I think that we need to cut to the chase.

Ben Walker  40:38

Impactful? What is there an attendant disadvantage to being negative is that if you're two negatives, you make the consumer feel hopeless, that they're actually they can't have an impact that therefore doesn't matter what they do, doesn't matter what choices they're making doesn't matter what brands they choose. We're going to hell in a handcart anyway.

Richard Cope  40:55

Yeah. Because I mean, it's going to be hard to make the case that any kind of consumption is going to be good or beneficial for the environment a colleague was selling before I came here, speaking to some young, young potential employees at a trade fair and said, How come Intel's talking about sustainability when you're basically promoting the whole concept of consumption? Why would I work for a company like you? So you know, we're getting the flack as well for, you know, providing data to help people sell more stuff or selling less stuff. So yeah.

Ben Walker  41:27

To try and keep it keep it positive and show the impact that yeah, there's a lot in your barometer about impact, isn't they? Actually, yes, you got to you've got to close the gap between what people the impact people think they're having and what they are having. But the fact that they think they can make an impact in the first place is presumably a very good thing.

Richard Cope  41:43

I think the reality is the impacts like the less damaging choice. So if you look at fashion brands, like reclamation will say, you know, this dress produced this much co2 and water, which is really bad, but look at the industry standards a lot better than that. So a lot of it's about that, I mean, with one brand, another brand called in fashion for 10 trees, and they try and sell the positive impact on if you buy one of our T shirts, we're going to plant 10 trees, and you can see, to maybe quite uninformed people, that looks great. But you know, in terms of the impact of that T shirt on, you know, resources, water, etc, is going to far outweigh the benefits of planting 10 trees. So it's a thorny issue. I think that's an example of reverse greenwashing. I don't know, but it's certainly creating the wrong impression.

Ben Walker  42:22

It's going the wrong impression. But it's there's something there compare and contrast Is that Is that a valid approach to using to compare and contrast your brand, with your competitors brand.

Emilie Stephenson  42:35

With consumers, I think you're always better off just talking about what you do, and doing it in a better way. I wouldn't want to win by ditching the others, I'd rather people convinced about what we were doing. Naturally, of course, you're aware of the market, and you can't do things in isolation either. And you've got to be strategic in what you're doing. But I think, yeah, with consumers winning with what you are, and then letting people copy. Copying is the best form of flattery is probably the way round that we do to lead the charge and genuinely was what's needed.

Ben Walker  43:07

More questions?

Gemma Butler  43:10

How do you think you're going to balance our sustainability messages when the cost of living crisis is getting worse? And it grounds you in today? So if you can't afford to feed your kids today? How are you going to think further out when it will naturally price will be almost the de facto of why you purchased?

Ben Walker  43:28

So the lady is looking in which direction? That's a mix things if I'm going to ask them.

Emilie Stephenson  43:32

First, I think it's that's the point where it has to work. It has to work financially. And one example I quite like, which was one of the unintended consequences that we found over trial of reuse in Asda. People were saying that, so we use trials, I think everyone's familiar with them, you would, in theory, bring your own in your own box, and then get past the way how much faster you've bought, and then without having to pay for the packaging.

And actually, that enabled people to measure exactly how much pasta or coffee in particular case they wanted. So actually, it had a double effect of a you were incentivizing them to pay less if they were bringing their own packaging. But be they could they didn't have to buy two kilos if they didn't have enough to spend two kilos. So that's a really specific example to say, it has to work financially otherwise, especially with the cost of living prices. But to be honest, at any point, it ain't gonna work.

Richard Cope  44:26

Yeah, and clearly now it's not time where people are going to start paying huge premiums for products, which position has been stable, ethical, I think, you know, the bigger picture around what's happening now is giving people a kind of early, harsh, lesson what's to come. So all those shortages, we're seeing that you know, commodities or energy, they're already happening because of crop failures, because climate change right now, the shortages we're seeing from Ukraine things at the moment, being wrapped up in something going to animal feed and things in terms of grey, that's the reality of what's going to happen to dress anyway.

So businesses are going to have to steer themselves to that businesses are going to have to take the hit on that, in the short term, look at making things more resilient. And if you look at someone's argument this morning about this and talking about Germany's opening up its coal mines again, in essence, what's happening yet at the same time, Germany is bringing forward its renewable energy. So for businesses, it's a short term, they've got to be resilient, and they're gonna have to foot the cost of consumers. That's certainly in the short term, Pioneer alternatives. Going forward. The argument for return on investment, what we're seeing the barometer is, whilst all this is happening, the desire to improve things like home energy, with a desire to have electric vehicles, it's actually going up, Scotland made a realistic thing, which is sold as a return on investment.

And in mature markets, what we see is in here, people who buy electric vehicles are all like tech heads, early adopters, it's that kind of people who buy them in more mature markets, it's all about very value conscious people who see that, that at the end of the month, they've got more money doing that. So that's not gonna happen next month. But I think the lessons coming out of this, businesses, how they position things, and how they operate is definitely gonna lead us to that.

Ben Walker  46:03

With my, my, well, we're coming to the end of the talk. We've got time for one more question. Two more, we're going to, we're going to take two more questions. Gentleman over here in the blind practice.


The last part of the Chartered Institute of marketing definition is satisfying customer requirements profitably. And you shared that sustainability might be green, but it's never black and white. And I'd like to just touch on Richard's point that you need to do it to make money and succeed in terms of sustainability. And I was just wondering, Emilie, for ministers point of view, from the work that they've done on sustainability, how has it helped, how would you say it's helped the organisation, make money and succeed and I was wondering, from Richard's point of view, so is a particular example, which is glowing around you need to do it to make money and succeed from a case study point of view.

Emilie Stephenson  46:59

A couple of things first, I think the brand the strength in the brands, because it's done. And because there is to my point before so much data, so much to prove everything that we've been doing since the start, I think that's a very important one for the brand and the trust, in Innocent. And there's something we haven't talked about too much, but employee confidence, employee satisfaction, all of that, behind the scenes, they're keeping your workforce specially at the moment when actually job market and people can go left, right and centre if you feel proud about where you work.

And if you feel that you're genuinely working for organisation that makes a difference. At the end of the day, it's going to be about your people and making sure that your people are convinced. So we're going to do with a plug here, but I spend a lot of time educating our own workforce internally about what it means both in their personal lives, but also in our business, so that they can then you know, be proud, spread the words feel confident. I think it's really important.

Richard Cope  47:58

Building on that, yeah, when I say make money and succeed, I'm talking about encompassing things like that not just talking about making a premium on something you're positioning primarily as being sustainable. But it is about things like keeping your workforce happy and more productive, not having to rehire and retrain them every six months or a year. It's about reformulating, like someone like Unilever would do using five ingredients instead of seven ingredients that say that's a cost safe, right that whether it's a environmental savings another debate, but it's a cost saving.

That's what I mean, when I'm talking about making money, I'm talking about making money in terms of you still being here in 5 or 10 years rather than losing ground to your rights. And obviously, I think some of the most fated examples of brands which are you know, doing this making money are premium you look at someone like the most obvious example someone like Tesla it's taken lots of hits, but you know, is emerging and is going to inherit that whole sector in terms of transport arguably and then I see that you know, some of the main some of the mainstream level fans like Ikea brands like Unilever is taking tips on its you know, awkward valuation and things like that but you know, we've customers into they are succeeding and it's being done at very mainstream level and sold in quite a software game I will say don't feel like being lectured by other brands are doing in quite gentle way now the example quotes being successful mean in terms of making money I think the easiest way I kind of deflect it when I talk to clients asked about making a previous sale, you know, this is giving this key don't do this is giving people pretty good reason to choose someone else because they can probably increasingly have the option to choose someone else's in price point and not going to have to pay a premium for much longer. Get that it will shoot.

Ben Walker  49:44

So one final question, I think from a lady with blonde hair back.


Know that um, yeah, I was gonna ask about the importance of turning the marketing inwards towards your employees. So how would you say that It's best to sort of start to educate your people and build that pride and build that engagement with your brand, and sustainability.

Emilie Stephenson  50:09

And as you start from day one, you know, when they we probably even before day one when they're applying, but yeah, we have a whole again, as a bit of a plug of innocent, but we have a whole induction programmes a whole week, where they were at every single employee goes through really understanding what each department does. Open q&a is as much open transparency, honesty being realistic. It's just taking them on that journey, explaining to them why you've made a decision and not that one, it takes time, right, because we could just not do any of this. But we really figure it's important to then get the long term buy into volume of all our employees,

Richard Cope  50:47

I think so we're not doing things progressives that here at the moment, what I think it comes down to is what we are trying to do here is sort of have a community where we share best practices, just everyday lifestyle tips, that's something I see brands doing as well as see brands extending into publishing or even online courses. There's a beauty brand in India called bare necessities, which has done that just to sort of help me sort of lifestyle tips and think that publishing things with Penguin anything. So think, doing the day to day level, you know, as an employee, that's what we look for, yes, I bought my company to be, you know, doing the right steps. You know, we signed up science based targets doing that. But it's all about how can you help me on my day to day, my day to day in the office, how do I become more responsibly might be able here and sharing lifestyle tips on how I can do it. So I think it's quite a soft approach.

Emilie Stephenson  51:36

You talk about science based targets, but as a starting point, we realised that no one in our business knew what it meant. And no one in our business actually knew the real difference between net zero and carbon neutrality, which FYI, I'm just going to explain really quickly that we talked about net zero as being having the image of a tap and reaching net zero would be to turn the tap off, if you see the tap and the water coming from the tap as the emissions and carbon neutrality we see as the sponge. And so you're always going to have a bit of water trickling through your and so just analogies like that we've tested with our own employees to then see how they resonate with other consumers. You can do a lot of test and learn with your own and then they feel part of the journey as well.

Ben Walker  52:14

Brilliant takeaway that use your own employees, your own people as a testbed before you try try the ideas.

Emilie Stephenson  52:20

I mean, of course go to Mintel for all the official research

Ben Walker  52:28

Well, that's fantastic. Thank you very much for your time today. Emilie and Richard and Emilie Stevenson, the head of Forrester good, innocent UK. Richard cope. Senior trends consulted at Mintel, I think a round of applause for the fantastic time and insights today, which I'm sure our audience gonna find extremely helpful.

Ally Cook  52:57

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Ben Walker Host CIM Marketing Podcast
Emilie Stephenson Head of force for good Innocent Drinks
Richard Cope Senior trends consultant Mintel
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