The key to “mobilising the masses” is to encourage individuals to make small changes that collectively have a bigger impact on sustainability.
Speaking at the D&Ad White Pencil Laboratory event in London (11 June), Weed said: “If our problem is [that] individually we can’t solve our problems but collectively we can, then I believe social media is ultimately the answer, if we can get all of us to do sustainable things and realise small individual actions make a big difference collectively.”
Weed believes the best way to instigate a shift in consumer behaviour is to offer a clear and positive consumer benefit for making the change beyond its impact on sustainability, but says Unilever’s marketers are still struggling where there isn’t as clear a benefit to the consumer.
“Al Gore and ’The Inconvenient Truth’ [documentary] put a spotlight on [sustainability] but also frightened people off. It’s difficult to engage people around the negative because even motivated people will engage for a bit but then will run away,” he says.
Weed also admitted “not many” of its customers are aware of the efforts Unilever is making in this area but that by 2020 the Unilever corporate ‘U’ logo will be recognised by consumers and understood as a “seal of approval” that Unilever “has done its homework and works harder than anyone else [to improve sustainability]”.