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Companies Plan to Increase Emphasis on Sustainability

“‘At a time when the economy requires everyone to stay focused on the essentials, it’s noteworthy that businesses are putting sustainability programs into that must-do column,’ said Nancy Costopulos, chief marketing officer of the American Marketing Association.”
When it comes to investing in sustainable business behaviors and programs, more than half of corporate marketers and communicators in the U.S. believe that their organizations will increase their involvement in environmental sustainability initiatives during the next two to three years, according to a survey conducted by the American Marketing Association and Fleishman-Hillard,Inc. In addition, half of those surveyed believe that economic realities will actually encourage the adoption of sustainability practices.
The survey shows that 58 percent of marketing and communication leaders believe their companies will place more emphasis on developing corporate sustainability opportunities in the months ahead, despite the belt tightening that is happening in the business world.
More than half of those surveyed believe that sustainability is an essential element of their companys reputation right now. Nearly three-quarters believe that corporate reputation, corporate culture and technological advancements will be the drivers for sustainability.
However, optimism is tempered with some smart realities. While the majority of companies will continue to invest in sustainability initiatives during the next year, how companies chose to communicate that commitment is mixed. About 43 percent of those surveyed expect their companies to increase marketing of their sustainability programs. They say they will do so because it is the right thing to do; customers are asking for more information; it is supportive of the corporate culture; and because sustainability offers a clear and distinct business advantage. That said, more than half of the respondents do not expect to increase their storytelling in the category of sustainability. Additional key findings from the study include:

  • More marketers and communicators (53 percent) define sustainability as the need to balance financial, human and natural resources for the long-term benefit of business and communities. Few define sustainability in terms of focusing on renewable energy resources (3 percent) or driving inefficiency out of the supply chain (10 percent).
  • Employees (82 percent) and customers (74 percent) are more likely to be the targets of communications about sustainability than are investors and analysts (52 percent).