What do you think when you hear about how committed a company is to the environment and then see their product in a single-use plastic container? Corporate disconnect at best, hypocrisy at worst? Almost every company today says they are concerned about the environment but their behavior may contradict that statement.
Hypocrisy or “Green-Washing”?
Are those core values just for the golden wall plaque in the reception area, or do they actually find their way into the company culture? Does management consider their stated core values of integrity, health, and sustainability, or are they overshadowed by the sometimes competing core values like “beat the competition” or profitability? What if they are trying to serve two masters, one is the desire for profit and the other is the desire to appearto promote human and planetary health? What if they feel that they must compete by offering their products in single-use plastic containers because their competition does? Too often “beat the competition” or profitability win.
What about the core value so many companies tout: Integrity? Does it show integrity to have your brand contradict your stated core values? Does “green-washing” show integrity when you are attempting to appear sustainable and heath-minded but your product’s containers wind up in the ground water, the ocean, and eventually inside your customers?
So what’s to keep CPG brand producers accountable to their own core values of integrity, health, and sustainability? Here are 3 emerging forces:
- According to Nielsen, the data scanning and analysis company, consumers are beginning to choose brands that tout sustainability. Positive reviews help sales!
- Interestingly, the press is beginning to call out hypocritical packaging and production practices. Social media has created a level of transparency that is hard to hide behind. Bad reviews hurt sales!
- And lastly, there is a ground swell of municipal governing bodies that are passing laws against single-use plastics. They are becoming illegal! When it comes to core values, the very need for, and existence of, these new packaging laws indicate that internal company reviews can’t be trusted.
Who Owns Your Brand?
Companies start out promising their customers a certain level of quality and performance from their brands. But it’s not long before the customer takes over. Soon the so-called brand promise is the expectation the customer has about the brand. If the brand steward (the production company) violates those expectations, the customer feels betrayed. They feel that the company violated their brand promise. In other words, the producer does not own the brand or the brand promise any more, your customer does! If your customer expects your company to live up to its core values, it better!
This is why corporate Human Resources departments, who usually comes up with the company’s stated core values, must not only get the Marketing and Production departments on board, they must also constantly monitor the behavior of the company to protect sales. They must monitor the company reviews and make sure the company culture is in line with the company values.
Things have changes in the marketplace. Your company is being held accountable for what it says and does. Your competition will be quick to point out any lapses in your integrity. Find a way to be true to your core values …and still be competitive and profitable! It’s crunch time!