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Sainsbury's to crowdsource sustainability marketing

Sainsbury’s is asking other companies including its direct rivals for advice on how to better market its sustainability initiatives as CEO Justin King admits it is a “challenge” to inspire customers about the value of sustainability.

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Sainsbury’s is asking its peers and direct competitors for advice on how to improve its sustainability credentials with consumers.

The supermarket says the move will lead to a raft of new sustainability campaigns similar to its ‘Love Your Leftover’ and ‘Million Meals’ initiatives launching in the coming months.

It is sourcing the marketing ideas from a pool of 155 companies including rivals such as Tesco and Marks and Spencer that have shared their suggestions via a survey on where Sainsbury’s is performing well on green initiatives and where it can improve.

The survey was conducted last month and covered areas such as how the business is engaging its customers on sustainability, how it is held in the corporate structure and the management of its own operations.

Alex Cole, director of corporate affairs at Sainsbury’s, says the move aims to highlight the ways the company can make its sustainability communications more relevant and added that the business would accelerate how it links its greener credentials to its ‘Live Well for Less’ strapline.

The sentiment was echoed by the supermarket’s chief executive Justin King who adds that the FMCG industry has found it challenging to “inspire” customers about the values of sustainability, which has lead to brands not talking about it “loudly” enough.

Earlier this year, Unilever’s chief marketing officer Keith Weed admitted that the company’s main marketing challenge was trying to persuade consumers to change to more sustainable behaviours. The company has announced plans to crowdsource sustainability ideas from NGOs to boost its bid to change consumer behaviour through marketing

King adds that the early results from the survey revealed that the company could do more to talk to its customers around sustainability issues and says that by acting on this views it hopes to spark greater competition around being environmentally and socially responsible.

“Consumers are now demanding value for their values”, he says. “They are looking for businesses they trust to do the right thing at the right price. If our competitors generally come to believe that this on our customers agenda then they will compete in this subject and this competition can fuel growth.”

The strategy is part of Sainsbury’s wider sustainability ‘20 by 20’ to hit 20 corporate responsibility targets by 2020.

The initiative was put together in partnership with sustainability organisation Green Mondays and communications agency Fishburn Hedges.

Jim Woods, director of Green Mondays, says it hopes to expand the format to other brands in the future and build a pool of business and sustainability experts that can “mainstream sustainability.”

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