It’s been a testing two years for many, professionally and personally. Never before have we so badly needed some good in our lives, a sense of purpose. So, it doesn’t surprise me that over half of people in the UK say the impact of Covid-19 has made it more important for companies to behave more sustainably [GlobalWebIndex].
People are spending more time considering what they purchase and the impact those brands have on the planet and wider world around them. Even back in 2019, a significant 72% of consumers claimed that having a brand’s values reflect their own beliefs is a deciding factor in what they buy [Edelman].
This highlights how crucial the role of business is. It’s not just that businesses need to reduce the harmful effects of their operations; businesses should also embrace the responsibility to have a net positive impact on the regions and communities within which they operate. The ecosystem of governments, NGOs and charities cannot, on its own, make the difference needed. Global businesses and brands bring scale, competencies and resources that other parties simply don’t have, so when we partner together, we can achieve so much more.
At Mars Petcare, our latest purpose-driven initiative is our Sheba Hope Reef Programme, officially launched in UK stores last month. We have been perfecting coral reef restoration within Indonesia for over a decade, and this new programme will activate new restoration programmes in further critical regions around the world. We do so in strong partnership with local communities, governments, researchers from more than 10 Universities, and local as well as global NGOs such as The Nature Conservancy.
We are working towards our global ambition of restoring 185,000m2 of coral reef by 2029. A total of 412,500 coral fragments have been planted to date, covering 40,000 m2, leading to a 300% increase in fish abundance.
By assigning a global brand like Sheba to the activity, it helps us get the word out to millions of households around the world. This is what global brands can do, and it is what consumers want to see.
There can be criticism at times in our industry of brands simply ‘greenwashing’ or ‘purpose-washing’, but this must not deter businesses from getting involved in purpose-led activity that is done in the right way. Authentic action will drive real change.
Sheba Hope Reef isn’t our first purpose-led programme and it certainly won’t be our last. Our Adoption Mission kicked off last year, fronted by Pedigree and Whiskas, and offers direct support for animal shelters; while our Dreamies partnership with the LGBT Foundation is an ongoing initiative we’re proud to support. As brand owners, shoppers are at the heart of all we do, so it’s crucial we meet and exceed their expectations, above and beyond the products we offer on shelf.
One in three consumers have claimed to have stopped buying certain brands or products because they had ethical or sustainability related concerns about them [Deloitte]. Without change, this can impact our industry significantly over time. The good news is, the power is in our hands.