Sustainability as a Differentiator in Marketing Building Products


Sustainability has come into widespread use due to increasing awareness of the environment and today’s consumers are letting businesses know that sustainable considerations become a tie-breaker when other factors are equal.

How good is your company at doing good? Historically, business has been built on the foundation of ensuring a healthy bottom-line. In today’s business landscape, the bottom line is still the end-all, but by adopting a sustainability differentiation strategy, more than just the financial bottom line is considered.

Sustainability is comprised of three elements: financial, environmental and social – also known as the triple bottom line. The advantages to it are increased revenue and market share, increased employee retention and increased community support.

Today, “business as usual” is anything but. The traditional model in which business exists solely to generate profits has changed. Now, companies are still expected to be profitable, but they are also expected to be an active participant — if not a driving force — in solving our world’s most urgent social and environmental challenges.*

Consumers now are more educated in their preferences, more sophisticated and more connected than ever before. They recognize their capacity to influence issues. Companies wanting to survive, and even move beyond the competition, will pay attention, as sustainability is a daunting influencer of trust and loyalty.

Within business practices, sustainability can be used interchangeably with corporate social responsibility, which can broadly be defined as a corporation’s initiative to take responsibility for its effects on the environment and to positively impact social welfare.

The ONE issue consumers most want companies to address is economic development – investing in communities through people, job creation and infrastructure.*

The building products industry, among others, has been slow to adopt this modus operandi. For this industry, now is a huge window of opportunity to derive a competitive advantage by following consumers, who are the ones driving the evolution of this phenomenon.

Nine-in-10 American consumers say they not only have a more positive impression of companies that support corporate social responsibility (93%), but they are also more likely to trust (90%) and be more loyal (90%) to those companies.*

Michael Porter, Harvard Business Professor and leading authority on company strategy, identifies a company’s chances to be profitable as either cost advantage or differentiation advantage. Applying sustainability practices to your business can contribute to a successful differentiation strategy in the marketplace.

With nearly 9-in-10 consumers feeling a responsibility to purchase products they think are socially and environmentally responsible, I think it’s time for the C-suite to take heed and go LEED.

*2013 Cone Communications/Echo Global CSR Study

photo credit: Jeff S. PhotoArt via photopin cc