Transparent business practice will give you the edge in sustainability

Krista Greenaway

Krista Greenaway

transparency in buisness how to be a transparent business transparent glasses looking into the green forest

Consumers are now looking to buy from a transparent business, a brand that can communicate to them on a personal level. Something that sounds easy in principle, but is often difficult to execute in practice. How do brands clearly demonstrate their commitment to being sustainable? It starts with transparency.

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Competition between brands used to be nowhere near as intense as it is now. These days, no business idea is ever deemed as original or authentic. The concern of being lost amongst the crowd is something that plagues business owners every day. For most business owners it can be daunting to try and start a business you personally believe in when you don’t necessarily understand how to effectively communicate across to your target audience. A skill that is vital throughout the later stages of running a business.  

What people are looking for now that will demonstrate that you actually have something to offer as a business is transparency. More importantly, being transparent is vital in communicating sustainability efforts. Sustainability is an edge that currently pulls people in, but soon will be just another ‘USP’ that blurs into the background if it isn’t communicated for the right reasons.

Talking openly in business communications

What does transparent mean in business?

The word transparency from a consumer standpoint generally means to be honest, authentic and open. 

Transparent companies openly communicate with their consumer base across ALL business channels, including social media, marketing, advertising and product information. To be perceived as a fully transparent business, no area of business can be deemed as vague or pushy.

If you think about it, which marketing emails have made you purchase a product in the past? I can guarantee it wasn’t the ones that said “Here’s our new product range” “Buy it NOW!”.

A study released by Label Insight looked at what information consumers want from brands.

Label insight logo

More importantly, the study looked into how consumers access said information and how that information affects brand loyalty and their purchasing behavior. 

The results were outstanding.

The Label Insight team found that there is an overall demand for more insightful information from brands about themselves and specifically their products. Giving consumers higher-quality information spurred a response that equaled increased, long-term loyalty towards brands that gave more detailed insights.

“This study reveals what matters most to consumers in terms of the products they use and consume, and draws a clear correlation between transparency and improved consumer trust, enhanced brand loyalty, and overall long term value in repeat purchase,” said Patrick Moorhead, CMO of Label Insight.

Key Findings:
  • 81% of consumers say they would consider a brand’s entire portfolio of products if they switched to that brand as a result of increased transparency.
  • 73% said they would be willing to pay more for a product that offers complete transparency in all attributes.
  • 94% said they are more likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency.

What this study shows us is that being a transparent business can generate better ROI. Not with the intention of making money, but as a result of developing trust among customers which in return forms strong loyal bonds and repetition in purchases.

sprout social logo

A study by Sprout Social found that connection is the new currency

With so many businesses out there, expectations for brands are high. Consumers now expect brands to serve as effective connectors and communicators for both individuals and groups of people. In fact, a whopping 64% of consumers want brands to connect with them. 

Sprout Social broke down exactly how customers define feeling connected to a brand:
  • 66% said: They trust the brand
  • 53% said: The brand aligns with their values 
  • 51% said: The brand understands them and their wants
  • 50% said: They depend on the brand’s products or services 

What these findings show is that business for consumers is more than just transactional. If you manage to speak to your target audience on a level that they can relate to, you are more likely to build a personal bond with them. Not only that, but you’ll be bringing together a group of people, which will form a solid community of committed buyers.

man a nd woman holding green heart sustainable love

How findings on business transparency can be applied to your sustainability efforts

It’s evident that transparency is vital for any business, not just sustainable ones. But sustainability in business is not something to be overlooked. In fact, it’s a talking point. 

A study commissioned by SmartestEnergy reveals that consumers are increasingly favouring brands with a commitment to environmental sustainability. The study reveals that 4 out of 5 people describe themselves as likely to choose a brand with a positive approach to environmental sustainability. 

Sustainability is becoming a topic of huge importance. One that goes hand in hand with transparency. Clearly displaying your sustainability efforts for the world to see demonstrates that you are, in fact, an honest and transparent business.

Sustainability is good business, not just making business good

Here’s how to be transparent about your sustainability goals in 4 simples steps

1. Don’t be afraid to start

Don’t be ashamed to admit that you are ‘hoping on the sustainability bandwagon’. Granted sustainability hasn’t been at the forefront of many business owners’ minds in the past. Why would it be? It’s a topic that only recently has spurred such a demand for businesses to be more mindful. So if you want to start being more sustainable because that’s what your customers want, tell them that. 

Do not try to convince your consumers that you have been sustainable from the start if it is not obvious. Tell them that your interest in sustainability has become a priority, and that you are taking a step in the right direction. They’ll appreciate it.

2. Talk about it openly


A follow-up point here is that you need to openly communicate what you are doing to be sustainable. Not only that, but you have to talk about your mistakes too. Again, if you have been unsustainable in the past and are now looking to turn over a new leaf, people will encourage this kind of growth within your business. 

For many consumers, it is refreshing to see that businesses that have made a mistake can learn from it and openly share this with them. Holding up a hand and saying “we were wrong but now we are actually doing something about it” is sure to win over consumers.


3. Ask for help


You might not have been sustainable from the forefront of your business but some businesses have. They shouldn’t discourage you from making conscious sustainability efforts. In fact, rather than competing with them, they should inspire you to make better, more effective changes following their lead.

There are plenty of businesses out there that can help you build your brand sustainability. Partners of One Tribe are able to protect trees with every sale they make. It’s a simple addition that can boost your individual sustainability efforts and generate better ROI.

4. Simplify it

Even small efforts like using sustainable packaging suppliers or sustainable energy providers can help you become a sustainable business. You don’t necessarily have to sell sustainable products to show that you are trying to contribute positively to climate change. Green energy suppliers, eco-friendly packaging,  biodegradable and recyclable office products, etc. can all make a positive difference.

Patagonia logo against green landscape

Sustainable brands that are showing the rest of us how “transparency” is done right

You understand what transparency is. You understand how to communicate transparent sustainability efforts. Now let’s have a look at some example brands that put transparency into practice throughout every single moment of their working day. 

Patagonia

Maybe putting Patagonia at the top of this list is a little more intimidating than we intended. But that’s exactly why they’re at the top of the list. Patagonia set out on a really tough challenge to combat fast fashion and try to convince people to buy and spend more on already expensive outerwear. Their edge?

Their commitment to sustainability. No hurdle stopped Patagonia from staying true to their mission and it’s their sacrifices that they’ve been open about from the beginning that’s made them the iconic brand they are today. 

Tony's chocolonely bar in hands

Tony’s Chocolonely

New to the scene but not new to making the right choices. Tony’s Chocolonely ranked #1 on the Sustainable Brand Index THREE times by their loyal customers. The iconic chocolate company really wanted to exaggerate that their chocolate isn’t just Fairtrade. The company makes chocolate with the respected help of their cocoa farmers based in West Africa.

Their open claim was that they make 100% slave-free chocolate. They backed up this claim by paying farmers 25% more than the standard price for their cocoa. Then, they solidified this claim by granting consumers the ability to track every cocoa bean in a Tony’s chocolate bar. So, do you see how knowing all these extra details sets them apart from all other Fairtrade chocolate manufacturers?

Their commitment to being honest with their journey reflects in their popularity and sales with net revenues increasing from € 69.6 to € 88.4 million- a total growth of 27% in 2020 alone.

nuzest brand product range image

Nuzest

Whether you’ve heard of Nuzest or not, their sustainability efforts are unmissable. The founders are on a mission toward better nutrition, and have put countless effort into building a solid brand recognised by a mix of sporting athletes.  

They are not just another protein, superfood supplier. The family run business shows us, no matter what size your business is, sustainability efforts are not a sacrifice to profit. Nuzest sought out help from suppliers. Asking them to provide chemical free, raw materials, purify and recycle the water they use, turn all waste into biofuel and animal food and keep their carbon footprint low. It was an easy ask for the providers in question.

How is Nuzest making its business transparent?

Both Nuzest and their suppliers shared the same sustainability goals. They openly communicated these goals and now Nuzest has a platform to share their joint efforts with their consumer base. Not only that, but it has helped them to spare more time to do internal sustainability practices. Something that has really skyrocketed is their transparency as a growing business and seen a 22% lift in cart conversion as a result. 

With those examples fresh in your mind, it serves as a reminder of what to do right in your own sustainable business venture. Whether you are building a sustainable brand from scratch or looking to transition your efforts, these brands all practice transparency to communicate their sustainability efforts clearly and effectively.

Figuring out which of the steps towards business transparency works for you will ultimately reward you with a more wholesome consumer base and a better overall ROI. 

For more information on how to transform your brand into a functional sustainable business read the quick guide of our climate action tools now.

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