Managing sustainability claims in digital marketing

Explore how to identify sustainability claims, common causes of risk & how tech can

Managing sustainability claims in digital marketing

In a world increasingly concerned about environmental and social responsibility, sustainability claims have become increasingly important for attracting and retaining socially conscious customers. Companies are expected to be transparent about their sustainability efforts and demonstrate their commitment to reducing their environmental footprint. 

However, managing and substantiating these claims can be complex and challenging without the right tools and technology. In this blog post, we will explore how technology can assist with the management of sustainability claims, making it easier for businesses to remain compliant, particularly in light of increasing activism from regulators like Australia’s ACCC, who have provided guidance for businesses making environmental claims.

Identifying sustainability claims

To identify sustainability claims, look for common words and phrases associated with sustainability, across web pages, social media posts and other channel, for example, looking for commonly used green buzzwords, such as "eco-friendly," "green," "sustainable," and "natural." These terms can often be used ambiguously and require careful scrutiny. 

To narrow your search for higher risk terms, look for such common buzzwords paired with the product type or features. For instance, if you are managing a skincare product, look for references like "Eco-friendly skincare" or "Sustainable ingredients" to see what information comes up.

Common causes of risk and mitigations

Making comparative claims can increase the risk associated with sustainability claims, as they provide more room for claims to be misleading or deceptive. Look for phrases like only (e.g. “the only Australian company reducing emissions“, less “made with less plastic”, best (e.g. “the best brand for the environment”).

References to third party certifications are a very powerful tool when advertising. However, making claims like “certified” or “third party verified” without specific supporting evidence can create risks.

To mitigate the risk from powerful claims such as comparatives or third party certifications should generally only be made as pre-approved with appropriate guard rails (e.g. disclaimers) prominently included. Creating a list of pre-approved sustainability proof points, along with associated guard rails and ensuring only claims from that list are made is an effective way to manage the risk associated with this powerful tool.

In this fast moving environment, outdated claims are a major risk. With underlying facts (e.g. changes to a product recipe meaning a claim is not longer accurate) and regulatory guidance (e.g. ACCC’s recently released guidance in December) frequently changing, there is a major risk that advertising materials that were acceptable when initially approved may no longer be within an organisation’s risk parameters, despite still being in market.

To manage this risk, organisations should conduct regular audits of their digital presence, looking for sustainability claims that require updating. As well as managing regulatory risk, these audits can also help improve marketing performance and improve brand trust (e.g. by updating an old claim of 50% recycled plastic to 70% recycled plastic after a change in manufacturing process to avoid confusion). 

Another key source of risk are claims located on variant social media post images or within videos, that may escape casual review.

Tech-enabled management of sustainability claims

Technology can make the process of identifying and remediating issues much faster and more efficient. For example, you can use a search engine like Google to search your website for sustainability terms like “eco-friendly”. 

Specialist platforms like Haast can take issue discovery to the next level, by letting you find only those terms that do not form part of approved claims, across all your channels (including social media). Similarly, you can use boolean logic to build rules to find any proof points missing required disclaimers. 

Technology can enable you to set up automatic monitoring to detect when content changes across your entire digital presence - meaning you can easily conduct weekly audits, while saving you time and providing far greater coverage than old-school manual sampling based audit methods.

Stay on top of your marketing compliance with the help of Haast’s compliance firewall. Easily set up guard rails of approved claims (and required supporting evidence). Then apply pre-built rules to automate the discovery of sustainable claims that fall outside of those parameters for further review. 

Haast can help you assign and manage detected issues, and then proactively monitor their remediation (by automatically detecting when they are removed). Enable your organisation to remain compliant and avoid regulatory scrutiny or customer mistrust.

If you'd like to find out more about how Haast can help, book a demo today!