Sustainability is often thought to be a hard sell.

But according to new research from Unilever, 54% of consumers now have a desire to buy sustainable products, with environmental and social factors being a major influence on purchasing decisions.

With its sustainability portfolio growing 30% faster than the rest of its business in 2015, this certainly seems to ring true for Unilever.

The company recently launched a new campaign to highlight how it is ‘building a brighter future’, so here’s why Unilever is putting sustainability at the forefront.

Promoting the purpose behind the product

Instead of directly promoting its brands, Unilever’s latest campaign, Bright Future, is designed to show how the company as a whole is making a positive impact on the world.

Its new advert depicts the various people who have benefitted from Unilever initiatives, such as Dove helping 19m young people to build positive self-confidence and Domestos helping 5m people to access toilets.

By positioning itself as a brand with purpose, Unilever is able to tap into consumer concerns about global issues – as well as make them feel like they are contributing to change.

If the act of buying a bottle of bleach or a bar of soap takes on greater meaning, it means that people are more likely to trust the brand and return in future.

Proof of commitment

The Bright Future campaign marks a continuation of Unilever’s strategy for social good. 

Since 2010, it has been working on its Sustainable Living Plan – a blueprint designed to reduce environmental damage and increase positive social impact. 

Focusing on three core issues – namely deforestation, sustainable agriculture and access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene – it is certainly an ambitious project. 

Of course, it’s not unusual for brands to use social good as part of a marketing message.

The difference with Unilever is that its strategy is entirely fundamental to its business proposition – so much so that its plan could be described as an act of self-interest as much as it is a charitable one. 

Regardless, as the growth of brands like Knorr, Dove and Dirt is Good show, consumers seem to be responding to Unilever’s long-term commitment to these issues.

Authenticity through partnerships

As well as helping to initiate change, Unilever’s global partnerships also serve to increase authenticity and trust in the brand.

By working with the UN and big name charities like Unicef and Oxfam, Unilever is undoubtedly able to utilise the knowledge and expertise of others.

But similarly, these partnerships reassure consumers that the brand shares a specific set of values.

This can apply to internal values, too.

With research showing that working to benefit a good cause can increase productivity by up to 30%, a common goal can be used to inspire employees as well as the target demographic.

In conclusion...

With research suggesting a greater demand for corporate responsibility, Unilever is setting its sights on the ‘conscious consumer’.

Now in the sixth year of its sustainability programme, the brand has certainly got a way to go before reaching its ambitious target. 

However, with campaigns like Bright Future reminding us of what it’s achieved so far, Unilever is hoping to persuade even more of us to help.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 9 September, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (1)

Naveen Narayanan

Naveen Narayanan, Director Consulting at Arrows Group

the most powerful insight for me is the first line about how people are more inclined to buy sustainable products

over 1 year ago

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