The next crucial challenge to brand reputation

Feb 22, 2021

In a recent meeting with the CMA’s British counterpart, I was shown their chart of three “societal” waves that are affecting the marketing community. The first wave was the pandemic. The second wave was systemic injustice towards the BIPOC community and the need for empowerment. Can you guess what is coming next? It’s a big one!

According to the chart, the third wave is: environmental, social and governance frameworks, commonly abbreviated as ESG. And I agree.

My roots are in the investment industry, where the topic of ESG has been on the radar for years. Without a strong record on these topics, companies will end up on buy exclusion lists and that is bad news for their stock prices.

From a marketing perspective, ESG is a crucial factor in brand reputation.

According to Margaret McKellar, a VP at Kantar and a member of the CMA’s Public Affair Committee, four attributes that consistently ladder up to corporate reputation include environmental responsibility, social impact, employee care, and supplier relations. Kantar’s research shows that the contribution of these factors to overall corporate reputation has grown threefold over the past decade. And over the past 12 years, the growth rate of brands with a strong corporate reputation was 39% stronger than brands with a weaker reputation.

The research also shows that environmental responsibility or sustainability is now the most important component of corporate reputation. So it’s no surprise that the environment has become a critical part of most brands’ stories. In consumers’ eyes, it has quickly become a right to play issue.

A recent study by the Canadian Nuclear Association found that, despite COVID-19’s unprecedented economic and employment turbulence, climate change or global warming is ranked by one in three Canadians as the number one extremely serious issue Canada currently faces.

As companies work to reduce their carbon footprints, there will be impacts on many aspects of marketing: corporate reputation, costs associated with a reduced carbon footprint, packaging and labelling issues, and perhaps even a requirement for express consent for print-based marketing.

For these reasons, our Public Affairs Committee has identified ESG as an important policy issue that we will monitor and engage in. I am grateful to Committee Chair Amanda Maltby (Canada Post) and her committee for their advice and insights.

Drop me a line if you would like to help us engage on this issue.

Stay well,

John Wiltshire
President and CEO




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