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September 15, 2017 09:05 CET

Can a sustainable message create new business?

We live in a rapidly changing world. The tempo is high and natural resources are becoming fewer and fewer. The question is: Do people care about buying sustainable products in a B2B (Business to Business) world?

Anke Meyer

Over the last few years, the majority of end-consumers have realized that their purchasing behavior has a direct impact on many ecological problems. Consumers have adapted to this new threatening situation by considering environmental issues when shopping (like checking that the product is packaged in a recycled material) and by purchasing only ecological compatible products (organic food, biodegradable paint, unbleached coffee filters and CFC free hairspray for example).

But how does this relate to our business world when talking to tinsmiths/roofers, architects and profilers? Will they react in the same way as end-consumers? Will they see the benefits of using a sustainable, high quality product – and will they be prepared to pay extra?

When I started the marketing of our color coated products, it became clear to me that our competitors have not yet strongly started to go the sustainable direction. What I found in SSAB is a "diamond" – an excellent steel product that also has Swedish rapeseed oil in the paint (a patent that SSAB owns). Should I go with the sustainable, green message that currently stands alone in the B2B market for color coated steels? And how would our different target groups react?

Architects

During the last 5 months, we have focused a lot on architects to create a pull effect in the market and by doing so, supported our partners in bringing the GreenCoat message to the building industry. What we have seen is that architects love the green message combined with top-class Nordic steel.

But: can a sustainable message also create new business?

After the World Architecture Festival, where more than 3,000 international architects met, the result is clear. Yes, a sustainable message creates new business in a B2B world – in this case, with architects. The day after the conference, I received an inquiry in my mail box at 9am for specifying material for a building in central London. They also want us to specify material for more buildings – and the price does not seem to be the first question. More importantly are the product properties such as sustainability and the long-lasting coating combined with high quality steel.

It has become clear that architects in a B2B world behave partly like end-consumers. They like the sustainable message because society (us) is also increasingly demanding greener living and a few of us are also willing to pay extra like when buying ecological vegetables in a supermarket. Those of us in a B2B world simply have to find the right people who already think green and where the market or segment moves towards a sustainable future.

However, more needs to be done. All of our target groups have to be continuously focused and our partners integrated in the new sustainable way, so that the entire chain works with the same message. As a result, a GreenCoat loyalty club will be built to emotionally land existing and potential customers in our new sustainable brand product.

Anke Meyer
Senior Brand Manager
Corporate Brand Management