Lack of senior management buy-in is holding brands back in delivering sustainability


86% of brands believe that sustainability is important to customers when making a purchase decision but two thirds say that lack of management buy-in to sustainability is a challenge. According to a survey of 200 retail professionals conducted by 100% Group, an international retail display installation specialist, senior manager inertia is making it hard for marketers to deliver sustainability across the brands lifecycle.

The survey found that 70% of brands have a sustainability policy but internal limitations made it hard to deliver. Nearly half of respondents stated that organisational culture was preventing sustainability in the brand, 46% blamed a lack of knowledge about sustainable services available and 45% quoted a lack of internal resources, indicating a disconnect between what the brands project to market and what they’re doing internally.

The majority of respondents claim that managing and implementing sustainability across multiple countries is also a challenge, with over half pointing to local and international considerations such as regional legislation, language, cultural barriers, labour regulations and global politics.

85% identify sustainability as critically important to the competitiveness of the brand and the same proportion believe it is increasing in importance to consumers. In fact, on average brands expect that having a sustainability policy will contribute to a 20% increase in footfall in-stores, 21% increase in profits and 23% increase in sales.

While 82% of the respondents say that sustainability is reflected in their brand and 92% claim that they use sustainable retail displays, a third are yet to implement a sustainability policy at all. Clearly, brands are keen to demonstrate sustainability practices but lack the resources to address the issue.

Of the two thirds of brands who have an environmental sustainability policy in place 57% have a focus on recycling materials, 45% follow materials reduction targets and 41% limit energy consumption but none address second life measures such as re-using or re-deploying materials from their retail displays.

Dan Williams, founder and managing director of 100% Group comments, “It’s becoming apparent brands have misguided ideas about who is responsible for carrying out for sustainability practices – especially over several geographic locations. When it comes to retail displays for example, 43% would approach the local retailer before their installations service provider to address end-of-life retail display removal, which is likely to result in the display simply being disposed of in a landfill.”