Collaborate with your marketing team to support sustainability claims
Procurement can play a vital role by collaborating with the marketing team to support product claims and share stories of value chain sustainability successes.¹ ² Leverage your unique position to gather relevant, detailed data on sustainability practices and achievements, which can substantiate your team's marketing claims and avoid greenwashing.³ ⁴ ⁵Stay abreast of shifting customer interests in sustainability and use this information to guide the data you focus on collecting. Moreover, provide feedback to your marketing team on any of their activities that may undermine sustainability efforts, such as promoting unnecessary consumption. Suggest creating a responsible marketing code to formalise your guidelines⁶, encouraging positive change in marketing practices. Consider also working with your team to inspire sustainable behaviours among customers, like normalising product stewardship⁷ and increasing demand for sustainably sourced products.⁸ Procurement's role can promote an authentic, responsible, and sustainability-focused brand narrative.
EXAMPLE: Sourcing data needed to advertise ocean plastic
A computer retailer integrated recycled “ocean-bound” into some of its products but could not advertise the specific product models this applied to due to a lack of upstream data. The result was an inability to gauge customers' preference for sustainability attributes. ⁹
EXAMPLE: Consumer brands adopting carbon labelling
Companies such as Unilever, Just Salad, and Logitech are adopting carbon labelling, a concept modelled after nutrition labels to represent the emissions embodied in the making of a product. Collecting accurate data to calculate product-specific carbon labels requires working closely with partners across the value chain.¹⁰ ¹¹ ¹²
EXAMPLE: IKEA promotes customer behaviour change
IKEA promotes customer behavioural change around sustainability through its “Live Lagom” online community platform. The platform provides a space to share stories, tips, and examples around sustainable living with customers.¹³ ¹⁴ On Black Friday, IKEA Canada chose to forego offering customer discounts. Instead, they invited customers to sell back used IKEA products at double the usual rate to signal their support for creating a circular business model.¹⁵