YOU’RE SO GREEN BUT CONSUMERS SEE RED. WHY?
Sustainability communication can be confusing and difficult, whether you’re sending or receiving the message. Working forests hold the key to a greener future yet the industry remains misunderstood and mistrusted. So how can forest companies cut through the confusion and build trust throughout the value chain?
Opticom’s extensive work on consumer perception confirms there is still a deep unease around a business model that relies on cutting down trees, because trees are an emotive subject, not a rational one. Understanding this key point and the perspective of the end-user can be a good start: Consumers believe trees are for planting, not harvesting.
After years of helping clients establish and maintain successful sustainability campaigns, Mikael Selling, founder of Opticom, shares a few tips:
See the bigger picture. Keep up to date with fast-changing perceptions, legislation and compliance and ensure your employees do too.
Understand the communication chain and where you sit in relation to the final end-user.
Simplify your story. Be clear in your message and remember who it’s for. Your immediate customer might already know a thing or two about working forests.
Tell the story for both your customer and your customers’ customers. This brings value to you both.
Don’t rely on eco-labelling to do the job for you. Some labels mean more in some markets than others.
“In a recent global consumer study covering Europe, the US and China, more than half of the respondents wanted to see more detailed information on the background/origin of packaging, not just an eco-label,” explains Selling. “Some 35% of the respondents did not consider paper to be a renewable material, for example, while 29% thought wood was fossil based.
“Understanding perception and, importantly, misperception, is key to building a strategic and effective communication response, especially where sustainability is concerned. We can help customers gain insight into all the stakeholders in the value chain. Those who have this advantage have a clear tendency to be more successful in their story telling.”