Tuesday 09 September 14:00-15:30
In good company with FSC: From strategy to consumer
Hugo Lara (Operations Coordinator) · Rainforest Alliance

From certification mark to global brand

According to a recent FSC-commissioned global survey of 9,000 consumers in 11 markets, 50 percent of consumers believe a certification mark on a product creates the highest degree of trust.

zoom (© FSC A.C.) © FSC A.C.This metric is positive given the widespread use of the FSC mark throughout the world on thousands of products and on packaging. Yet despite its widespread visibility, most mainstream consumers do not understand what the tree mark represents or feel a sense of loyalty to products that carry it. This poses a huge problem and opportunity for FSC certification, as companies face challenges in trying to communicate their sustainable practices to consumers and in building demand for FSC-certified products.

Forests for all, forever

Carla Tavares, FSC’s Marketing Program Manager previewed the marketing strategy that FSC has been developing over the past year in collaboration with FSC national offices and the sustainability communications agency Futerra. The marketing campaign, still in development, is titled “Forests for all, forever.” The campaign looks to coalesce consumers around a simple, memorable message focused on protecting forests and the species and communities that depend on them from today to the end of time.

Marketing tools for companies

In January 2015, FSC plans a two-phase online release of the marketing strategy guidance and creative pieces. The first phase will comprise the social media, brand and public relations and messaging strategies for FSC-certified companies. The creative assets phase will comprise a toolkit with sample print ads, digital ads, point-of-sale marketing and other examples for companies to use in their marketing. These marketing tools were well received by the business members of the audience, many of whom have been asking FSC for such tools for many years. It is yet to be decided whether they will be made available to certification bodies (CBs) to promote to their clients. This would be the logical approach, as CBs have the most direct contact with companies and often face the same marketing challenges.

Telling the FSC story

FSC’s greatest challenge lies in portraying the complexities of certification in a simple, compelling way that resonates with mainstream consumers. A representative of Kingfisher, Europe’s largest home improvement retailer, pointed to the difficulty that environmentalists have had in marketing their sustainable products to consumers: “Over the past 20 years, we have failed miserably in communicating sustainability.”

FSC’s marketing team understands these challenges and is focusing on storytelling, particularly on highlighting the pervasiveness of wood in our lives. By connecting consumers to the wood and paper products that surround them, FSC hopes to create an emotional connection to the world’s forests and to its broader mission of promoting their sustainable management. In order for the FSC system to succeed for the next 20 years, it will require the support and loyalty of mainstream consumers who believe in the system and are willing to spend their money on FSC-certified products. Whether FSC succeeds in making the leap from certification mark to a global brand is yet to be seen, but it is now taking the first key steps in that direction.