The conscious consumer — part two

In Part Two of our wrap-up of Rowland’s first webinar of 2022, we focus on how organisations choose to strategically communicate and position themselves in today’s conscious consumer market, where authenticity and alignment to personal values earn cut-through is critical.

Our expert panel discussed how organisations are communicating their position on ESG among internal and external audiences, as well as how they plan for and anticipate the issues and pressures of doing business in a rapidly transforming conscious consumer-led market.

As we dive further into our panellist’s responses, we focus on two key points:

Changes to a company’s priorities cannot be surface level: organisations must be able to demonstrate advancements in tangible ways. Organisations that are not viewed as genuine, will face difficulty.

  • Anita: Brands, across the board, are aware of the growing focus on ESG and the importance to take a different approach to structures, production and distribution. However, the challenge to ensure that brands remain viable and able to offset costs is conflicting. Consumers are not always willing to pay more for ethical goods or adapt to the ‘buying less philosophy’ as the industry has been historically configured to make consumers consume more. This opens the conversation on how retail organisations can navigate these broad transformations both internally and externally through the adoption or adaption of processes such as supply chain efficiency, environmentally friendly packaging and decreased energy consumption.
  • Andrew: Organisations that are neglecting or not demonstrating evidence of their positive contribution will struggle. This ‘conscious consumer’ landscape is rapidly developing, and clients are increasingly placing greater importance on sustainability, with 80 percent of people wanting their superfunds to be invested responsibly.
  • Tonianne: The core of ESG is the recognition that all organisations need to look after their stakeholders in the context of which they operate. There are powerful external pressures to prioritise ESG and also strong internal pressures. Board members, managers and employees want to do the right thing and want to work with organisations that have a positive contribution — the amount of work being done on employee value proposition and the alignment of organisational values is powerful.

Communicating your position is complex: paying attention to what’s important to your stakeholders is key, so focus on delivering clear information on performance.

  • Andrew: QIC ensures communications through both informal and formal channels. When we find an opportunity in the ESG space we put it in front of our clients to show what is important to the company and forge developments. There are also vital signals that we know our companies will pay attention to which include reducing emissions by 20 percent by 2040 — people need to see evidence. Therefore, front and centre on every QIC update is clear information on ESG performance and sustainability reports.
  • Tonianne: Communicating your position is extremely complex and there are a huge range of communication strategies to use depending on the organisation and audience. The sheer amount of data on ESG is huge and organisations must make choices on what to provide bespoke data on. How can you be transparent? Through sustainability reports and ensuring you are upfront when you cannot meet the goals, and then aim to meet them in the future.
  • Jennifer: It is important to see clients through the maze of communicating ESG priorities through understanding where they’re truly at with their positioning. The next wave of disruption is this wave of the ‘conscious consumer’ and reputation management is at the forefront of this. Companies must understand stakeholder activism, to put the organisation on the front foot and we need to make use of supply chain information, tone and style of client’s communication to ensure authenticity is key — always clearly communicating the client’s story in a way that consumers can hear and connect with across all channels.

To watch the full video and read other key takeouts from Part One of our summary of our Conscious Consumerism webinar, please click on the link.