Many consumer goods companies have made solid gains to promote sustainability through such moves as reducing their carbon footprint and water usage. However, relatively few have made sustainability a big part of their brands. To understand the obstacles keeping them from developing sustainable brands, Bain & Company interviewed senior executives at 20 of the largest consumer goods companies. In those interviews, 100% of participants said they made sustainability a priority and are devoting more time to it. But only 5% said they had successfully embedded sustainability in their brands. The multiple rewards of building sustainable brands are well documented. When we surveyed 8,000 consumers on their views, nearly 75% said they are willing to pay more for sustainable products. Sustainable incumbent brands are growing two times faster than nonsustainable brands, according to our research, with sustainable insurgent brands growing ten times faster. Incumbent brands can use sustainability to reignite their relevance.
If the message is so clear, why are so many traditional brands late to the game?