Release: Consumer focus on sustainability outstrips marketers current skill set with half still fearful of ‘greenwashing'
Consumer focus on sustainability outstrips marketers current skill set with half still fearful of ‘greenwashing'
By Sophie Peterson, Content and Engagement Executive, CIM
- Two in five (40%) marketers would like to attain a marketing qualification relating to sustainability but don’t currently possess one
- Two thirds of consumers (63%) expect companies to be more vocal on the sustainability of their products and services
- Consequently, half of marketers (49%) are wary of working on sustainability projects due to fear of being accused of ‘greenwashing’
[03 August] A new report published today by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), reveals that two in five (40%) marketers would like to attain a marketing qualification relating to sustainability, but don’t currently possess one. Despite this, the number of marketers participating in sustainability work continues to increase, with three-quarters (76%) of marketers saying they have engaged in this work in the last five years, with nearly half (45%) feeling pressure in their role to communicate their company or clients’ sustainability credentials.
The report explores the views of both marketers and consumers, with multiple surveys conducted, assessing the views of 210 marketing professionals, 2,000 UK adults, and an additional online survey of 1,193 respondents which includes CIM members.
The report reveals consumers expect companies to do more when it comes to sustainability, with two thirds (63%) of adults agreeing that brands should increase communications around the sustainability of their products and services. However, at present, only two in five (41%) marketers report that their companies or clients have publicly available sustainability commitments.
As consumer demands for further action and transparency grow, it’s more important than ever for brands to communicate their sustainability efforts and, crucially, follow through on the promises they make. In fact, CIM’s research finds that two in three (63%) adults believe that many brands only get involved with sustainability for commercial reasons, as opposed to ethical reasons, highlighting the need for authentic and meaningful marketing to build consumers’ trust.
The report finds that younger age groups are more receptive to sustainable marketing, with six in ten (59%) 18–34-year-olds saying they are more likely to buy products or services from a brand that advertises how sustainable they are, as opposed to just three in ten (31%) of those aged 55 and above.
Chris Daly, CEO, Chartered Institute of Marketing, commented: “As marketers, we are all responsible for being proactive in implementing positive changes and embracing environmentally friendly working practices. If the marketing profession is to deliver meaningful and tangible change at scale then, as an industry, we must do more to address the sustainability skills gap and ensure that marketers are equipped with the skills they need to work confidently on environmental campaigns which can encourage others, and drive the positive responsible behavioural changes needed within society.”
Tightening of regulations and greenwashing
The introduction of regulation in the past couple of years has seen an increase in the number of brands being held accountable for making misleading claims, including those accused of ‘greenwashing’ through misleading advertising.
This can have the injurious effect of deterring marketers, with half (49%) saying they are wary of working on sustainability focused campaigns due to fear of their company or clients being accused of ‘greenwashing’. Despite these fears, over half (55%) of marketers recognise that sustainability is an increasing business priority, and one in two (51%) go as far as to say that climate change could threaten their existence, raising alarms about the impact the climate crisis will have on businesses.
Businesses that are able to demonstrate their sustainability efforts not only retain top talent, but attract new talent too, with half of both jobseekers (48%), and current employees (48%) saying they are more willing to work for a company that they know has strong sustainability credentials.
Chris Daly, Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Marketing, concluded: “Ignoring the environmental crisis is not an option, and CIM’s new Sustainability Marketing Skills Gap report shows that marketers and businesses alike, who chose to do so, risk falling behind in their own careers and missing out on one of the biggest opportunities ahead. Marketers need to use their unique skill sets to influence, change behaviours, drive innovation and build communities where collective action makes a real difference.”
CIM Members can access the Sustainability Marketing Skills Gap report now.
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On 28th June, CIM hosted an online webinar entitled A Marketers Guide to Defining and Communicating Sustainability. The event featured Cathryn Higgs, Head of Ethics, Sustainability and Policy at Co-op food and Helen Quaye, Senior Policy Development & Campaigns Manager at Co-op food, who provided examples of how one of the UK’s most successful and environmentally aware food retailers structures and communicates its message in a very crowded and competitive market. The webinar will be made available to catch up with on-demand very soon.
For marketers looking to upskill their sustainability credentials, CIM offers a number of training courses, including Fundamentals of Sustainable Marketing; Sustainable Marketing Strategy; Carbon Literacy for Marketers; Sustainable Brand Strategy; The Sustainable Marketer; and Strategic Marketing Planning for 2024.
Additionally, CIM’s Level 7 Qualifications, Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Marketing and CIM Marketing Leadership Programme have been developed following extensive global employer-led research including global/multi-national organisations, small businesses and senior marketers across a range of market sectors.
About the research methodology:
The report explores the views of marketers and consumers, so is made up of two different samples. The first survey looks at the views of 210 marketing professionals, and the second of 2,000 UK adults aged 18 and above. Both fieldworks were undertaken between 15 - 20 September 2021 and were carried out online. The results from the general population have been nationally weighted to be representative. An additional online survey was undertaken by CIM between the 7 - 13 September 2022 via the CIM LinkedIn channel. There were 1,193 respondents including CIM members and those that follow CIM on LinkedIn. Further market insight, research and best practice was added through interviews with senior thought leaders.
For over 100 years, CIM has supported the marketing sector. With over 20,000 members in more than 100 countries, CIM strives for business leaders and opinion formers to recognise the positive contribution professional marketing can bring to their organisations, the economy, and wider society. We support, develop and represent marketers, organisations and the profession all over the world. Our ability to award Chartered Marketer status recognises a marketer’s commitment to staying current and abiding by a professional Code of Conduct. While our diverse range of training courses and world-renowned qualifications enable modern marketers to thrive in their roles and deliver long-term success for businesses. Find out more about CIM by visiting www.cim.co.uk
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