How brands can help save the world

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We’re passionate about conserving our planet.

That’s why as a business, we’ve been working through brands like National Geographic Kids to educate children and their families about the wonders of the natural world, for over a decade. But it’s only recently that we’ve seen such a dramatic culture shift in engagement around protecting our planet.

What’s exciting? The drive for change is often being led by children, who are keen to take control of their own futures, and are pushing their parents to do more.

Movements like School Strike for Climate, or the record viewing figures achieved by Blue Planet II, give us all cause for hope. We believe this is just the beginning.

“Consumers are getting frustrated that things just aren’t moving quickly enough.”

This groundswell movement is driving real change, from banning plastic straws and micro-beads to planting CO2-absorbing trees, things are moving in the right direction. But understandably, consumers are getting frustrated that things just aren’t moving quickly enough.

Recent trust studies by Edelman have shown that people have lost faith in traditional institutions, believing that governments are unable to make a difference on the issues that matter to them. The rise of fake news and political bias has led to people losing faith in the media. The recent Oxfam scandal and Kids Company closure has left the charity industry’s reputation in jeopardy.

More than ever, consumers are looking to brands to help solve societal and environmental issues — and they are leading that charge with their wallets.

“Buy a product with positive
sustainability, environmental or
social credentials, and you feel
good – even smug – about it.”

Admittedly, this is not a new concept. Many brands take a ‘do good’ approach to business, standing up for societal issues and charitable causes. As an example, Peril’s Dirt Is Good campaign, launched 15 years ago, encourages children to spend more time playing outside and has reached millions worldwide.

But today, the power dynamic has completely changed. Now, it’s the consumers who are pressuring – even mandating – brands to act on the issues they care about, rather than the brand championing causes of their own accord. That behavioural shift is most apparent in young people, just under 70% of 18 to 24-year-olds now buy on belief over product.

With this in mind, there has never been a better opportunity for cause-based marketing — for brands to create change while simultaneously driving sales.

Through our unique experience engaging with children on complex issues like climate change, plastics and sustainability, we have honed a way of inspiring positivity and action. Children have notoriously short-attention spans – as do general consumers, for that matter – so we’ve learnt to create content that engages and explains, quickly and simply. Most importantly, our content always presents a hopeful vision of our future — reducing eco anxiety.

“27% of children believe that the world will end in their lifetime.”

There are some worrying stats that show how environmental despair can lead to denial and inaction. An Australian study found that 27% of children believe that the world will end in their lifetime. A Swedish study found that 4 out of 5 10-12-year-olds expressed strong feelings of fear, sadness and anger about environmental problems. Another study found that two thirds of people believe that climate change threatens their existence. The list goes on and on…

Fear can be a cause of inaction for brands, too. Understandably, marketeers feel nervous about putting their brand under the eco spotlight. But ultimately, the brands that fail to act will be the ones that are left behind, as that highly-engaged young audience increasingly influences their parents’ purchase decisions.

“There has never been a better opportunity for cause-based marketing — for brands to create change while simultaneously driving sales.”

At Creature & Co., we can help brands to take that leap. We provide insight from our audience of parents and children who – as National Geographic Kids families – are already engaged with environmental and societal issues. Our marketing research questions receive over 3,000 responses a month plus, we can access individual families or groups to gain more focused insight.

Through the solutions that Creature & Co. can provide, we can help brands devise and create powerful campaigns which will help change the world!

Peter Johnson is Managing Director
at Creature & Co.


This content was adapted from a speech that Peter presented at our July breakfast briefing about communicating with planet-conscious families.

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