Communication is an important factor: How companies increase sales with sustainability

Corporate sustainability is not only a matter of responsibility, but can be a sales turbo. Studies show that up to 40% of Germans are prepared to spend more on a product if the company is socially committed. But, of course, only if they are willing to buy the company’s sustainability activities and the communication about them. The crux of the matter is that many consumers know far too little about the sustainability projects of companies.

Antje von Dewitz, CEO of Vaude

In 2011, only one in ten consumers even knew of a sustainable company. The second sticking point is that consumers are often not convinced when buying products because the sustainability activities are poorly communicated. So if you know how to talk about sustainability, you have a clear advantage and can increase your sales and strengthen your position in the market.

"Sustainability may be a cost factor for us, but it gives our company a clear profile,"

says Antje von Dewitz, CEO of outdoor outfitter Vaude. For her, sustainability means “acting in partnership with people and nature. The head of the company not only communicates the sustainability strategy clearly, but also explains the individual activities involved, e.g. how Vaude maintains long-term partnerships with Asian production sites, supports social and sustainable measures there or how this process is audited by the “Fair Wear Foundation” certification body.

Vaude’s growth rates of 10% per year on average are above the industry average. This success is almost logical, as an American study comparing CSR strategies of 411 companies was able to prove that comprehensive commitment in the environmental and social area leads to greater profits. But only if the sustainability strategy and communication are right. Half-hearted and one-sided strategies often even resulted in red figures. And it takes patience. In some cases, effects can only be measured after 2 years.

It is of central importance how you as a company representative communicate about sustainability in public appearances. You should consider the following factors:
Score with facts. Demonstrate your commitment, e.g. by working with certification bodies. This will not only create trust but also a higher level of awareness.
Open cards. Avoid self-praise. If necessary, also address problems, e.g. if products still need time to be 100% ecological. But show the way you want to get there.
Think long-term. It is crucial that your sustainability strategy is understood as well as the benefits for the environment and consumers.
Continuity beats individual actions. Communicate the progress of your commitment continuously.

Quotations according to Augsburger Allgemeine, 18.04.2018 (

Image source: VAUDE-Photos – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, (

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