The trials and triumphs of corporate transparency
Giving customers what they want is key to any business, and to keep investors and stakeholders on board, transparency is crucial to keeping them informed and happy. Packaging is at the front line of the sustainability battle, since it is one of the most tangible aspects eco-responsibility and is literally in consumers’ hands all the time. Nearly any purchase requires some thought towards packaging, whether it involves food, medicine or even new shoes.
Investors are becoming wary of overblown claims, and consumers are getting more educated about what “sustainable” really means. Suspect claims are being called out: Kmart was charged by the FTC for claiming its disposable plates were biodegradable, ENSO Plastics got in trouble for falsely stating their plastic water bottles were fully biodegradable–the list goes on. Increasingly, sustainability is hinging on honesty and transparency, and corporate transparency is vital to being successful.
Corporate transparency has positive potential impact; it helps grow trust in a brand because both consumers and investors know and understand exactly what they’re looking for. One of the most important benefits is that overall, transparency will have positive environmental effects because companies will have no choice but to actually be sustainable in order to win over consumers and investors.
Sustainable packaging even creates a business and marketing opportunity: putting “30 percent post-consumer plastic” on a package is not enough anymore. Companies need to be doing much more to truly make sustainability claims that will woo customers. In that vein, the business opportunity is lost if there’s no communication or transparency, because both consumers and stakeholders will remain in the dark about the sustainability and responsible business practices. The communication lines running between the company and investors, and between the company and consumers, must be clear and precise.
Another caveat: brands must be careful about potential partnerships. If a company partner or collaborator is not holding up the same standards of sustainability, or is making false claims about their sustainability, that can bring your company’s claims into question and lessen the impact of your efforts.
When dozens or hundreds of companies are striving for these measures, marketing wins will not necessarily be a given. A brand will also need to be detailed but simple in its marketing efforts. It won’t be substantial enough to say “compostable.” Telling consumers what the carbon impact is, how to recycle the packaging, or how to compost the leftovers, will be helpful.
While corporate transparency requires extra communication and marketing efforts and extra care taken when choosing business partners and suppliers, these efforts are not in vain and are, in fact, becoming crucial to keeping up with business standards. The efforts also pay off greatly in marketing and business improvement and–most importantly–for the environment.