Sustainability IS Still Marketable—Here’s How Customer Data Helps
In the era of Covid-19, can you find new customers that care about health consciousness, sustainability, low carbon footprints, and the environment—or related themes such as fair trade, organic, or locally sourced items? That’s an interesting, potentially revenue-enhancing question for many brands and retailers.
Do Consumers Care about Sustainability Anymore?
Now, you might think that sustainability concerns have been totally overwhelmed by the virus, despite the fact that McKinsey says that sustainability is a high priority. Might as well get ready for luxury Troll dolls with baby seal fur for hair and endangered rainforest baby hummingbird feather pillows, as long as they can be delivered by Tuesday.
And that would be wrong, says a new survey by Kearney consulting and Food Dive journal, which found that nearly half of the 1,000 consumers they surveyed this spring said they were actually more concerned about the environment because of the pandemic. About 11 percent say they’ve shifted their purchases based on environmental claims during the last year.
Perhaps even more interesting, the number of consumers who take the environment into consideration when buying increased as the study—and the pandemic—proceeded. Food Dive reports that at the beginning of its survey, 78 percent said they take the environment into consideration at least occasionally, already up 7 percent from the previous year’s survey. But as the survey came to an end, after most people had been on lockdown for weeks, the number who felt that way actually rose, to 83 percent of consumers who said they make the environment a buying criterion.
But HOW to Make Sustainability a Selling Point?
Of course, it goes without saying that you should be able to both articulate and demonstrate that your company and its brands are actually doing good things for sustainability and/or related issues. For example, since Arm’s founding, its designs have focused on energy efficiency compute and performance per watt, to help technology companies incorporate those designs into revolutionary new categories of products including mobile phones and wearables. The latest Arm designs are making a difference in energy efficient computing and sustainability for cloud services, data center, and enterprise computing markets. Amazon Web Services new Graviton2 processors use Arm’s latest Neoverse designs to deliver industry-leading energy efficiency and best price-performance for running cloud workloads in Amazon EC2.
Brands in the retail industry are also pushing for sustainability. For example, fashion company Reformation tracks and measures the energy and water it uses—and the waste it generates in manufacturing each fashion item—and then uses that information to give each item a RefScale rating, which consumers can use to select for lower-environmental impact designs.
How Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) Can Help Market to ‘Sustainables’
The next step after reducing environmental impacts is to use data to understand how to find and cater to customers who are the most likely to be influenced by sustainability and related issues. Some marketers see promise in the same technology they already use in their marketing efforts: a customer data platform, or CDP. Already, brands ranging from ABInBev to Subaru to Shiseido use CDPs to target, segment lookalike audiences, and personalize individual customer journeys of their customers.
A CDP accomplishes this by taking Big Data from many different sources or “feeds,” then identifying and assembling the information for each customer into a “golden profile” that gives a detailed demographic and behavioral profile of each customer. These profiles can include loyalty program info, social media use, past purchases, web browsing habits, mobile phones, IoT devices, and more. This information, when coupled with other CDP features, helps marketers accomplish the following.
Identify which of your customers care about sustainability—and how much. CDPs can tell which customers are buying a larger-than-average amount of sustainable products, and can automatically target these customers with sustainability messages and offers. Based on A/B testing, CDP analytics, and the results of early efforts, you can tell if these customers are responding, and how much the sustainability campaigns are resonating.
Create data-driven customer experiences that cater to sustainability customers. CDPs can personalize and tailor the customer journeys of sustainability customers, to showcase sustainability, describe opportunities and relevant information, and offer consistent product suggestions and choices. Some companies might go so far as to offer targeted experiences such as benefit concerts to engage environmentally conscious buyers. But even simple things, such as offering a “next most sustainable product” recommendation or letting customers rank products by sustainability rating, can make a difference.
Acquire new customers who look like your current sustainability-loving clientele.Treasure Data enterprise CDP has many features that help with new customer acquisition. Prime among these is “look-alike” modeling, which CDPs do to identify the characteristics that are most correlated with caring about sustainability, and find new customers that “look alike” in their profiles, but using fresh, new data feeds.
As Covid continues to create chaos, strangling companies that either were already struggling or whose businesses couldn’t cope with the terms of lockdowns, consider this: As the economy starts to recover, which brands and retailers will pick up the consumers who used to patronize the stores that closed? Could your business actually pick up a few net-new customers as a result? Perhaps a documented emphasis on sustainability, coupled with personalized customer experiences that focus around sustainability, could be what distinguishes your brand from the rest. Clearly, many consumers haven’t forgotten about sustainability as something that influences their decisions about trying new products or giving a company that they’ve never patronized a second look. And if they haven’t forgotten about sustainability, maybe retailers and brand managers can’t afford to forget about it, either.
For more on how to identify and embrace behavior-rich intent data, read this new Retail TouchPoints report.