The Resiliency of Sustainability

The sustainability movement had a good run throughout the 2010s but was ultimately no match for a global pandemic. Headlines of decreased environmental regulations, scarcity of essential consumer goods and the increase of single-use plastic, have dotted news coverage over the last four months. It seemed as though all the sustainability gains over the last decade were at risk of being washed away in a post-COVID world.

Fortunately, consumer sentiments around sustainability have proven to be quite resilient. A recent survey conducted by Kearney in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day revealed that consumers are actually more likely to consider environmental impact of their purchasing decisions despite the pandemic.

Figure A

As the graph above shows, there was a 12% jump from March 2019 to April 10, 2020, which given recent trends isn’t too surprising. More revealing (given the recent scarcity of consumer goods), however, is that the survey reveals a 5% jump in the 5 weeks following the COVID-19 stay-at-home measures. This increase demonstrates the durability of the sustainability message during a time when consumer ideals are often set aside for more practical measures.

Having established that consumers still care about sustainability during a pandemic, the Kearny study went on to gauge how successful (or not) brands are at meeting consumers’ sustainability expectations.

Figure B

Figure B indicates an overwhelming majority of respondents (78%!) believe that companies should be doing more to help them make decisions that improve environmental outcomes. This disparity between consumer expectations and reality represents a massive market opportunity for brands to capitalize on.

From an INWK perspective, sustainability has never been more important to our business and the brands we serve. Over the last 6 months, we’ve had an increasing number of clients request engagement from INWK to help define and advance their sustainability goals. These goals and targets range from the monitoring and reduction of carbon emissions, energy, plastic and water, along with shifts to more sustainable substrates, increase in diversity spend, and material end-of-life consideration.

While the INWK perspective is anecdotal, it is yet another data point indicating that the commitment to sustainability continues to be strongly represented within major brands and corporations amidst the COVID-19 crisis.

INWK has also made commitments to promote sustainability within our industry and beyond. In May, we announced our status as a Brand Leader with The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP), the leading non-profit accreditation organization that promotes sustainability in printing practices and manufacturing operations. As a $1B+ marketing services partner representing some of the world’s most recognizable brands, INWK understands our size and scale are unique for our industry. More importantly, INWK aims to utilize that sphere of influence to promote sustainability best practices across our supplier network.

Commitment to sustainability is being demanded by consumers, our clients, and our business. To learn more about how INWK can help you achieve your sustainability goals, contact us today.

Sean Carr

Director, Sales Enablement + Sustainability Lead

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