Posted in GreenBiz
December 13, 2021

Survey says: Quality is king and materials matter

GreenBiz

This article is sponsored by Eastman.

We are living in a decade of change, and the planet will have 10 billion people on it in the blink of an eye. Addressing the triple challenge of mitigating climate change, mainstreaming circularity and caring for society is the key to enhancing quality of life for every person, now and in the years to come.

As a materials technology leader, Eastman has the responsibility and opportunity to drive impact through innovation. The company is already doing this by using molecular recycling technologies to revolutionize materials and enable high-performance circular products, right now.

But enabling circular products is just one piece of the story. Effectively communicating the benefits of circular and sustainable products is critical to encouraging consumer purchase and demand for those products, which, of course, fuels the circular economy.

For several years, Eastman has invested in global consumer studies to better understand how to position sustainability to consumers across key industries such as fashion, housewares, electronics, and building and construction. A database of more than 30,000 consumers has allowed Eastman to develop cross-industry insights to help brand partners talk about sustainability.

The two biggest takeaways? Quality is king and materials matter.

It’s no surprise that quality ranks as one of the most important purchase factors for consumers. A product can have the best of the best sustainability claims, but if the quality or performance suffers, that’s a tradeoff that consumers aren’t willing to make.

When probed about what makes a product sustainable, materials matter. Materials define sustainability across product categories for consumers around the world. This makes material selection the cornerstone of any brand’s sustainability strategy.

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So now that we know that quality is king and materials matter, what should you keep in mind when communicating to consumers about sustainable products?

  • Become familiar with the legal guidelines: Consumer protection agencies around the world, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), outline what companies can and cannot say in marketing communications. In the U.S., the FTC Green Guides are a great place to get started.
  • Be specific; avoid vague messages: This is a key takeaway from the FTC Green Guides. Not only can unspecific, vague messages confuse and mislead consumers, they can put your company at risk for regulatory or legal action. 
  • Make it easy for consumers to understand: For lower risk purchases, consumers may give but a few moments consideration when comparing products on the shelf or for online purchases. Make sure your product packaging and online description details are clear, easy for consumers to understand, and lead with quality and materials. 
  • Only make claims that you can substantiate: Trust is key for gaining consumer loyalty. Always be truthful and transparent in your messaging and be sure to ask your material suppliers what claims can or cannot be made about your product. 
  • Be sure to reinforce quality and performance: The many aspects of sustainability are constantly evolving, which can be overwhelming. Talking more about your sustainable material offerings can help make sustainability more tangible for customers and help bring them along on your sustainability journey.
  • Get help from the experts: Effectively telling the sustainable story about your product to consumers can be challenging. Get help early from your legal or regulatory experts to be sure your messaging meets any requirements for the markets where your products are sold.

While incredibly important, the points above are table stakes when it comes to marketing sustainable products. Eastman’s research shows brands looking to position themselves as sustainable leaders or looking to gain loyalty should message their sustainable products in a way that assures consumers that they will not be making any quality or performance trade-offs.

To learn more about Eastman’s research, download “Sustainable Stories: Three tips for talking to consumers about sustainable materials.

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