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Make It but Don’t Fake It: Keep Your Sustainability Promises

Gone are the days when consumers would choose products based solely on price and quality. Increasing consumer awareness of environmental issues—and growing pressure on government and industry to achieve an eco-friendly economy—has pushed sustainably minded businesses to the front of the pack.

There is no doubt that businesses that successfully market their environmental claims to consumers gain a competitive advantage. In fact, studies show that many of today’s consumers prefer to buy from companies and brands they trust, typically looking for purpose-driven, transparent and impactful brands that offer sustainable alternatives to regular products.

Studies also show that two-thirds of fashion consumers say sustainability has become more important to them since the start of the pandemic, and a similar proportion would boycott a fashion brand that fails to do its part in protecting the planet. Younger consumers are particularly demanding, with more than 90 percent of Gen Z consumers (aged 18 to 24) saying that companies have a responsibility to protect the environment and make a positive social impact.

Aligning brand efforts with consumer expectations

Now, consumers want fashion brands to reflect their values and embrace initiatives like sustainably sourced materials, reducing CO2 emissions, transparency on production, and resale and repair, and the demand isn’t slowing down anytime soon. However, many don’t believe brands to be as sustainable as they claim.

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New research from GWI, an audience research company, has found that 62 percent of consumers are only a little trusting that brands will stick to their environmental claims or pledges, and 22 percent don’t trust brands at all. That is because consumers have become more aware of how easy it is for brands to make sustainability claims without the data to back them up.

So, how can brands and retailers build trust with consumers?

Be honest and transparent
Consumers don’t expect perfection. They want to know and trust the sustainability claims brands are making. Avoid the perception of greenwashing by claiming what you really sell and quantifying your impact.

Demonstrate a genuine commitment
If your brand is committed to bringing a sustainable product to the market, show it. Define clear objectives and set goals for a supply chain that demonstrate transparency from the product’s origin until the end of its life. For this, it is important to understand your supply chain and do due diligence on traceability and all marketing claims.

Substantiate your claims
Back up your sustainable product claims with clear proof. Make it your goal to substantiate 100 percent of your claims as the ultimate demonstration of your commitment.

Overcome the challenges of being genuinely green

The most effective way for a brand to prove its green claims depends on the material, product and where it fits in the supply chain. In some cases, documentation verification that reviews and assesses all documents provided by the suppliers will be enough. At other times, onsite evaluations and traceability assessments are needed. Beyond these, it’s also possible—and sometimes necessary—to perform testing that evaluates the veracity of the claims and authenticates the materials.

The most productive method to build trust and substantiate claims is to utilize a third-party expert, like SgT, who offers tailor-made solutions for greater supply chain transparency and traceability, while providing scientific methods to support brands’ sustainability initiatives. Using a 360-degree approach, SgT provides solutions along the supply chain, from the early stages of fabric development to bulk production and consumer use.

Today, polyester accounts for around 52 percent of the fibers used in textile and apparel products, with many brands and retailers turning to recycled polyester (rPET) as a replacement. Verifying the genuineness and amount of rPET within raw materials is essential when substantiating claims and ensuring you are getting what you pay for. SgT has pioneered a new scientific method to verify and quantify rPET in products, helping brands and retailers authenticate their rPET claims and give them confidence in what they bring to market.

Another innovation by SgT is Chem Scan Check™, which detects more than 285 chemical substances in a single test, helping brands pursue zero percent unexpected chemical risks and enjoy peace of mind when shifting to recycled materials.

Brands and retailers that create sustainable products are well-poised for growth—if they can prove to their customers their efforts are genuine. Increasing transparency and substantiating sustainability claims will set those brands and retailers above the rest. Make it your goal to substantiate 100 percent of your claims to keep your sustainability promises.

This article was written by Alison Hanko, head of marketing, WORMS Safety Alliance, SgT.

SgT creates tailor-made programs adapted to the specific needs of each customer. Discover more about their sustainability solutions here.