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Newsletter Stories

Tuesday, 19 August 2014
Taking Sustainability to the Consumer

August 19, 2014

For more than 20 years, leading global companies have placed increasing emphasis on integrating sustainability into their operations and products. Recently we’ve seen companies continue to push their own boundaries by setting time-bound goals and targets for improvement. For those companies demonstrating true leadership in the arena, the questions often come up whether and when to begin talking with their consumers about their sustainability efforts.  

Consumer Engagement
Reaching out to consumers, educating them on the impacts of their purchasing decisions, and encouraging behavior change that results in more responsible consumption habits, are all prime opportunities to be explored. 

Market research has shown time and again that brands are some of the best vehicles to help consumers change their shopping habits. Brands have the ability to engage in a dialogue directly with the consumer. They invest considerably in understanding what makes their customers tick, and spend heavily on reaching them at the right moment, in the right media, with the right message. Brands have been practicing the subtle art of encouraging and effecting consumer behavior change since before the ‘sustainability category’ was born. Many well-known consumer brands also have the distinct advantage that they are often more trusted by consumers than governments and even in some cases non-profits. 

Engagement in Action
FSC aims to work collaboratively with companies to raise awareness of the benefits of purchasing products containing FSC-certified wood and fiber.   

Specifically this summer, several Kimberly-Clark brands including Scott, Cottonelle and Kleenex, are targeting consumers directly through a retail campaign with grocer partner ShopRite. The campaign is titled “Love the Forest” and has two primary goals 1) increase awareness of Kimberly-Clark and ShopRite’s sustainability efforts and 2) educate consumers about the benefits of choosing FSC-certified products. Representing the largest FSC consumer outreach at retail in the United States to date, the campaign runs from early July to early September across 250 stores in the Northeast. Marketing support covers a mixed media plan with newspaper ads, digital ads, in store materials, email blasts and ShopRite loyalty program communications all included. 

Strategic Alignment
This consumer-facing campaign is more than a marketing effort, but links directly back to the corporation’s commitment to responsible sourcing. In 2009, Kimberly-Clark made significant FSC commitments within its supply chain and end products. Since then, the company has increased the use of FSC-certified fiber in its global tissue products by 111 percent. “We strive to embed sustainable practices into every part of our business because we see it as a competitive advantage,” said Lisa Morden, senior director of sustainability at Kimberly-Clark Corporation. “We also realize that as a company our power to create change lies not just in the impacts of the products we create and sell but in our relationships and dialogue with consumers.”  

“Effecting real consumer behavior change is somewhat of a ‘holy grail’ in the field of sustainability,” said Corey Brinkema, president of FSC US. “Companies investing in this kind of consumer outreach is a critical next step. It is wonderful to see Kimberly-Clark’s continued leadership, engaging consumers and using the FSC brand to help sell products and protect forests at the same time,” he added.