Can sustainability help deliver growth?

As alluded to in earlier comms, as a Growth Marketing business our aim is to not to preach about the importance of becoming a more sustainable business, but rather to educate our clients about the commercial value that can be driven from communicating their sustainability initiatives and ultimately how they can be used to accelerate growth.  

Sustainability has been the topic de jour for a while now and whilst we all recognise the importance of becoming more sustainable in how we operate as businesses, recent bespoke research commissioned by Space & Time has really shone a spotlight on how sustainability is also starting to influence customer purchase behaviour, especially in regard to buying a new property. Whilst once considered a soft ‘nice to have’ brand message, it is now starting to have a significant impact on customers choices. We only have to look at other industries such as the motoring industry and the recent rise in uptake of electric vehicles, to predict how important it will become. 

Consumers are highly motivated by sustainability  

In a nutshell, one of the most significant stats that came from the research was that 65% of respondents confirmed that sustainability was an important factor in their decision making when buying a new home. Separate research carried out by Property Week stated that 77% of people in the housing market are likely to choose a green home for their next purchase. These are significant numbers that can’t be ignored and we anticipate to grow even further over time, as we move towards the 2050 carbon net zero deadline. We believe that there is now a real commercial opportunity to be gained from running a sustainability-led campaign alongside your usual activity, to build brand favourability and increase your credibility in an increasingly important space. Brands that fail to start making a mark in this space now are at a real risk of losing customers in years to come as sustainability starts to gain even more traction within the property industry. 

To really make gains in this space though, businesses need to truly understand what the motivating factors for their customers are, and offer relevant and timely messaging in response. An overly generalised campaign around sustainability simply will not be enough. This is proved by another key finding from the research which highlighted the disparities that existed amongst different target groups, and how the motivation for buying a sustainable home varied significantly from one to group to another. The greater we understand the customers’ situations, their motivations (or conversely their resistance and scepticism), the more powerful and effective the campaign will be.  

Consumer research and insight tools such as TGI can help identify the mindsets of your target audience, and can be of particular value when combined with bespoke research studies or consumer profiling into your own customers. Getting under the skin of your consumers will empower you to identify the right way to engage with them.  

Space & Time’s planning expertise, alongside a deep understanding of emerging behaviour changes within the market, ensures that we build the most effective and impactful plans to reach customers throughout their whole journey. In addition to this, our Media audit service helps clients to identify gaps in any current activity, and most importantly identify new opportunities to reach customers in a more effective way and, ultimately, to drive further growth. 

Walk the walk 

We can clearly see the importance of starting to weave in sustainability led messaging into comms, and the commercial opportunity that it can present. However, our research also showed a +124% YoY increase in conversation surrounding businesses and ‘greenwashing’ defined as “any dishonest practices used by businesses to represent themselves as more sustainable” and customers are quick to criticise brands they perceive to be using sustainability as a ploy to gain customers, often having a negative impact on brand reputation and consequently on sales. It is therefore imperative to not just ‘talk to the talk’ but also to ‘walk the walk’: to ensure that any sustainability efforts are at the heart of what the business does.  

This may be as simple as ensuring your channel selection is as carbon neutral as possible – directing spends away from printed media and more towards digital channels for instance. At Space & Time, we are also on this journey and, whilst we are still learning, we are increasingly mindful of our own carbon impact and are making huge strides to become more sustainable in our recommendations and ensuring that we only work with key media partners that support this thinking. We aim to only offer solutions that truly complement the property sector’s path to carbon neutrality. 

However, at the end of the day advertising is just one touchpoint of many that the customer experiences, and it is not enough alone to change perception. Sustainability needs to be weaved through everything that the company does, and ultimately everywhere that the customer interacts with the brand. As Growth marketeers, our role at Space & Time is to advise not just on media, but on all parts of the customer journey from initial engagement through to post sales care.