Digital media is often viewed as a more sustainable marketing channel than print or other traditional channels. However, the printing industry has been pushing to bolster its own environmental practices, arguing that the necessity of paper and print materials calls for greater attention to sustainable practices.
For example, the most recent WhatTheyThink Economics & Research Center Business Conditions survey found 35 percent of commercial printers identify their marketing and sales materials and promotions as evidence of an “environmentally sensitive business,” up from 26 percent in 2008.
“As we emerge from the recession, slowly but surely, environmental sustainability will become an increasingly important issue,” the report reads.
However, as important as paper is in the contemporary business landscape, its role is beginning to diminish. While few believe it will be replaced by digital content altogether, businesses need to recognize the evolving nature of the industry and its impact on document storage and office procedures. The trend is even prompting many companies to adopt process management software to streamline their operations.
All these efforts can also be addressed as businesses adopting sustainability initiatives, as they work to promote environmental awareness and consideration, while also bolstering public relations and lowering costs.
The adoption of sustainability measures was addressed in a study released this week by Accenture, which found a large majority of global business decision-makers – 72 percent – claim the benefits of their sustainability efforts have exceeded their expectations, while only 4 percent of respondents claimed their hopes were not met.
The survey – which involved more than 240 business executives in the U.S., UK and China – also found the promotional benefits, namely reputation and trust, to be the main perk of sustainability initiatives, with 49 percent agreeing with this claim. Forty-two percent of business leaders cited lower costs and 41 percent pointed to improved brand awareness.
Despite the strong indication of the benefits of sustainability efforts, about a third of respondents claimed their investment in the field was a peripheral aspect of their operations. Sixty-eight percent, on the other hand, claimed it to be an integral part of their business.
“The good news is that companies are already seeing sustainability investments generate returns in terms of market success and cost performance,” said Bruno Berthon, managing director of Accenture Sustainability Services. “The irony is that the hardcore third of businesses who don’t enjoy these benefits are likely the ones who think sustainability is peripheral to their business. Only by placing it at the heart of commercial strategy can sustainability be a channel to growth and innovation.”