Customer behavior reveals need for sustainability

Customer buying habits are placing pressure on companies to become more sustainable. With customers exercising more buying power than ever, companies are evaluating consumer behavior to inform their efforts to build and preserve customer loyalty. One concern that is becoming increasingly influential in customer buying decisions is sustainability.

In The Global State of Customer Experience 2021 report, 80 per cent of the over 280 CX practitioners surveyed agreed that customers are becoming more conscious of sustainability. This, paired with the fact that 51 per cent of CX practitioners strongly agreed that customers are more likely to switch brands in response to bad experiences means that offering customers sustainable options is rapidly becoming a necessity.

Michael Stausholm, founder of Sprout World, the eco-company behind the world’s first plantable pencil, maintains that the stakes are high. He believes that companies must become more sustainable or risk losing customers, as customers want to purchase products from brands that make a positive difference to society.

Similarly, in a recent webinar hosted by Deliveroo entitled More than meats the eye, global content marketing manager at Deliveroo Adam Spawton-Rice, shared that brands must provide sustainable options to avoid falling behind their competitors: “It’s self-perpetuating: the more options your competitors have the more likely your customers are to try them over you. Sustainability is a big driver for people trying vegan and plant based food, so it matters more where things are sourced from than it being vegan.”

It is not just sustainability that is important to customers. Whether or not a company positively contributes to society is also important, with Qualtrics XM Institue finding that buying from an organization that contributes positively to society accounts for as much as 25 per cent of consumer choice (16 per cent on average). Additionally, Forbes has found that more than 75 per cent of consumers are more willing to buy a product from a company with a corporate social responsibility initiative.

Joshua Tye, customer experience leader at Wellstar Health System, notes that: “A socially responsible organization empathetically evaluates customer’s decisions. The most responsible teams leverage diversity and environmentalist perspectives to elevate consumer outcomes.”

Operationalize social responsibility

By being transparent about practices and what is being done to be more environmentally friendly, companies can prevent customers from churning, increase loyalty and even win new customers. By adding social responsibility into their everyday operations, companies can make a change for the better while also seeing the economic benefits of these changes.

Joshua Tye shared some tips on how companies can operationalize social responsibility: “An organization is only responsible when the use of consumer insight is instilled into the day-to-day operation, this turns responsibility into reliability. Responsibility is simple, it is using the information to guide the daily operating behaviors of the team. If the organization cannot invest time, energy and resources into the strengthening of socially responsible behaviors then an organization cannot expect to be socially reliable.”

He added that social responsibility is the gateway to leveraging insight to create top performing CX hubs, and commitment that builds long term loyalty from customers.

When considering how companies can transition to becoming more sustainable and socially responsible, vegan category lead at Deliveroo, Elena Devis, said that companies should track and monitor their progress in order to hold themselves accountable.

 “Coming up with a sustainability roadmap and considering where you want to be in three, five and 10 years is important, as is sticking to it. Information is power, and consumer information can help to make informed decisions and show that your company is progressing,” she explained.

In order for companies to match customer behaviour, it is imperative for them to consider how they can become more sustainable and socially responsible, and enact these measures as soon as possible.

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