Pernod Ricard on ’empowering’ its marketers to communicate on sustainability

Greenhushing is a symptom of marketers feeling nervous about how they communicate on sustainability, Pernod Ricard is attempting to “empower” its teams to tackle the issue.

Source: Shutterstock

Pernod Ricard’s head of brand purpose believes the business is “empowering” its marketers to speak up on sustainability issues by making sure they are clear on the purpose of any green communication.

Dilyara Abdulkayumova heads up sustainability and brand purpose at the spirits business, which owns brands including Absolut, Beefeater and Malibu.

In a webinar hosted by Brand Finance and The Conference Board on the financial impact of brand sustainability perceptions, the concept of ‘greenhushing‘ was discussed.

Greenhushing is the act of keeping quiet about your sustainability targets and actions instead of making them a core part of your brand identity, either for fear of being accused of greenwashing or because you are failing to hit your internal sustainability goals.

Pernod Ricard’s Abdulkayumova said that marketers are feeling a “tension” between wanting to communicate on sustainability but being cautious about what they put out.

“From our point of view, it’s [about] empowering our marketing and brand communities, providing training and tools, and helping them to communicate in a relevant way, backed up by science and fact,” she said.

The rise of ‘greenhushing’: Why are brands going silent about their sustainability efforts?

The guidance Pernod Ricard gives to its marketers is that they should be clear on why the brand is communicating – as well as who to – before embarking on its messaging.

“It drills down to: who is this communication meaningful for? What is the value for consumers, and what is the value for the brand? What are you trying to achieve as a brand? Is it recruitment? A premiumisation position? Is it driving quality credentials?” she says.

Brand Finance strategy and sustainability director, Robert Haigh, spoke about the consultancy’s sustainability gap research.

The Sustainability Gap Index aims to quantify the value that can be gained or lost by brands through their sustainability efforts. It claimed brands that aren’t being vocal enough about sustainability could be missing out on billions of dollars in revenue.

Haigh acknowledged that greenwashing is a real danger for brands, particularly given tight regulation in the UK and US.

“But there are too many brands that take too precautionary an approach, where they don’t tout the real achievements they’ve made,” he said.

According to Brand Finance’s research, these brands could be losing out on real financial value.

We definitely see that sustainability can drive not only engagement with consumers from behavioural change, but actually deliver for brand value.

Dilyara Abdulkayumova, Pernod Ricard

Abdulkayumova stated that Pernod Ricard saw returns on its sustainability investment in several areas.

“We see that sustainability can drive not only engagement with consumers from behavioural change, but actually deliver for brand value,” she said.

Another fruitful area where Pernod Ricard sees dividends from its sustainability communications is in its employee engagement and retaining talent, with employees placing a lot of value on the organisation’s actions in this area.