Sustainability can become a true lever for creating value for brands
“It doesn’t matter what you call it, as long as you do it,” Mattel’s head of sustainability, Pamela Gill-Alabaster commented about sustainability in a Licensing International webinar last week (18 March).
Pamela Gill-Alabaster gave a compelling presentation on the business case for sustainability, exploring the how sustainability can create value and gave her tips on considerations for licensing.
Sustainability is no longer ‘nice to have’ for a business, it should be completely embedded in the business model. And it’s not just about recycling and sourcing responsibly; it goes much deeper, integrating economic, environmental, social and governance into strategy and operations.
“Enterprises can become a force for good,” said Pamela. “We can use our businesses to drive positive environmental and social change. Sustainability can become a true lever for creating value for brands.”
With consumers voting with their wallets, there is a definite shift in purchasing behaviours, with 62% of consumers saying that they would consider shifting to a comparable brand that offered a more sustainable option when price and performance are equivalent and 55% would boycott a product if they learnt it was behaving irresponsibly.
Sustainability can really enhance an organisation’s reputation, with 41% of people basing how they feel about a company on its CSR (corporate social responsibility). “But you do need to be very careful about over-stating claims,” said Pamela. “As a brand owner, you need to know what is happening all the way along the chain. Consumers will always see the brand first and foremost, not the licensing partner.”
It is the ‘court of public opinion’ that can cause issues for brand owners, as the general public does not separate out a brand from the licensing partner. “That is why you need a rigorous selection process when vetting potential licensees,” said Pamela. “You need standards and auditing in place and you need to know how to deal with non-compliance. It’s important that any potential partners align with your company goals – whether that is on packaging, materials, design principles. It’s really important to establish the chain of custody.”
In closing, Pamela touched on the importance of specificity saying “most consumers don’t really know what sustainability is. Recycling, they do, but sustainability can mean so many things. So just be really specific. If you use organic cotton, say you do and show the certification. If you use recycled plastic, tell consumers exactly what proportion is recycled and where it’s from. Specificity is your friend. It allows consumers to make informed choices.”