“In the agri-food sector, which faces growing suspicion, sustainable marketing is no longer an option but has become a prerequisite, a lever for differentiation and competitiveness," said the industry lobby's communications director Amaury Bessard.
“With the advent of social networks and the strengthening of each consumer's ability to influence, tomorrow's marketing is irrevocably anchored in responsibility.”
The report, Succeeding with responsible marketing (in French), was compiled in collaboration with marketing specialists, business schools and advertising associations, and picks out 44 industry "inspiring" initiatives where firms succeeded in communicating their CSR activities to the general public.
French manufacturer of processed meat, seafood and ready meals Fleury Michon was praised for its marketing campaign on surimi (crabsticks) - a product previously associated with low quality and unsustainable ingredients.
It sought certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), and its 2014 campaign ‘Venez vérifier’ (Come and check) focused on increasing the transparency around crabsticks and how they are sourced and manufactured.
It removed polyphosphates, sorbital and glutamate from its crabsticks where possible, and told consumers on the product's on-pack label when more than one species of fish was used.
ANIA praised the firm for taking a long-term vision and working with external stakeholders, such as the MSC, in order to respond to consumer expectations.
For its efforts, the company saw a sustained increase in market share between 2010 and 2015, rising from 23.7% 30.5%, according to IRI data.
Engage with your suppliers
Meanwhile the Lesieur brand, owned by agri-food giant Avril, received a mention for the sustainable sourcing methods used for its ‘Fleur de colza’ cooking oil made from rapeseed flowers. The oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids and has a carbon footprint around 25% smaller than that of standard rapeseed oil.
Lesieur drew up a suppliers charter engaging rapeseed producers and cooperatives on several fronts, including traceability, reduced pesticide use and selecting more resistant seeds, and also offered a per tonne-bonus for producers – an example of value sharing within the supply chain, says ANIA.
This was accompanied by several TV, press and digital marketing campaigns which focussed on traceability by tracking a bottle of rapeseed flower oil back to the seed in the farmer’s field.
The ANIA report gives nine tips for successful responsible marketing.
- Be consistent - a sustainable supply chain should be at the heart of your business strategy.
- Take a long-term approach, and identify clear objectives and milestones for each environmental and social aspect.
- Clarify the brand’s role especially vis-à-vis suppliers and consumers.
- Don’t forget the benefit for consumers. They won’t be satisfied with environmental or social actions alone; think of health and desirability too.
- Think outside the box. Be open to co-creation, open innovation and alternative business models.
- Involve all stakeholders. Success will depend on both internal and external cooperation.
- Trial and test your ideas with pilot products before scaling up.
- Measure your evolution in a methodical way.
- Be transparent and clear in your communication.