Press Release

UserTesting and Spread Group Reveal 5 Best Practices for Sustainability Communication

In brief: 

  • UserTesting and Spread Group reveal qualitative insights from over 700 user interviews on the perception and sentiment of corporate sustainability communication
  • Best practices include fact-based and transparent communication, open exchange channels, and empathic listening 
  • Customer feedback helped Spread Group refine a durable sustainability strategy and increase the profitability of sustainable products by up to 20% 

Berlin, December 06, 2022: 
UserTesting and Spread Group share results from over 700 user interviews on how to communicate effectively during a company’s sustainability journey. As companies and customers grow increasingly aware of the urgency to act and reduce greenhouse emissions, many brands find it challenging to communicate while sustainability transitions are in progress.

Sustainability is a tough subject to tackle when communicating with customers, said Janelle Estes, Chief Insights Officer at UserTesting. “There are a lot of subtleties and emotions involved. A message that seems perfectly on-point internally might trigger a completely different reaction on the customer’s side. In order to communicate effectively, organizations need to replace the guesswork through direct exchange with their audiences.” 

Working with UserTesting helped Spread Group understand how to communicate with potential customers about their sustainability practices. Potential customers were clear that Spread Group, ran the risk of ‘greenwashing,’ by speaking vaguely in their marketing prototypes about the sustainable materials in their clothing. Taking this insight to heart, Spread Group began labeling their shirts as “organic” and developed clearer labels, filters, and categories to help visitors find the right products for them. Since implementing and releasing the name changes, Spreadshirt observed a nearly 20% increase in the sales of organic products in Europe.

“Thanks to our customers and their feedback, we are able to focus our efforts on building a future-proof business model and drive positive change.” said Spread Group’s Chief Fashion Officer Frederik Brakel. 

Best practices on effective sustainability communication gained through the research include:

  1. Be transparent and proactive: Many customers are aware of the environmental impact of their purchases, in particular when it comes to fashion accessories and clothing. Proactively sharing internal sustainability goals, processes and progress is therefore crucial. This also includes communicating on potential setbacks and learnings; sustainability is an ongoing journey and customers will appreciate being part of it. 
  2. Avoid buzzwords: While a constant flow of information is important to establish effective sustainability communication, organizations need to be mindful not to undermine genuine efforts by going over the top. Flowery mission statements and the frequent use of buzzwords such as ‘eco-friendly’ might easily be interpreted as greenwashing. 
  3. Focus on the facts: Avoid ambiguity by adding clear numbers, metrics, and sources to trace where the data came from . In the case of Spread Group, adding dedicated icons helped to simplify the online store’s user interface (UI) and allow customers to quickly understand product information and filter accordingly to desired products. 
  4. Practice empathic listening: Collecting in-depth customer feedback and finding out how specific messaging is interpreted helps to improve sustainability efforts significantly. Spread Group constantly conducts qualitative research to understand how their customers think and feel and uses these insights to produce clear wording and product information.
  5. Open the exchange to both sides: Encourage customers to be part of the conversation and show them how much you value their input. Creating an ongoing dialogue with their customers helped Spread Group understand what really mattered to their audiences, such as detailed information on the supply chain, material sourcing, and eco-labels.

“There is no ‘one-size-fits-it-all’ solution when it comes to communicating on sustainability”, said Janelle Estes, Chief Insight Officer at UserTesting. “Each organization has its own challenges and faces a multitude of complexities when transitioning into a sustainable business model. Our work with Spread Group has shown once more how important it is to listen to your customers and utilize feedback to build better strategies, experiences, and products.” 

- Ends - 

Note to editors: 
More information on Spread Group’s research collaboration with UserTesting can be found here.  

We are happy to arrange individual interviews with key spokespeople at UserTesting and Spread Group and provide further insights on themes like customer experience, remote qualitative research, corporate communication, and product design. 

About Spread Group

Spread Group is a global provider of customized fashion and lifestyle products. With the brands Spreadshirt, Teamshirts and Spreadshop, Spread Group offers consumers, companies, and content creators digital services for the individualization of fashion and lifestyle products. The common basis of all Spread Group service offerings is a flexible software platform that enables deep vertical integrations along the value chain. This includes not only product design, marketing and sales via marketplaces and online stores, but also production, payment processing, worldwide shipping and customer service.

The made-to-order pioneer founded in 2002, in Leipzig, Germany, now operates five production sites in the U.S. and Europe and has annual revenues of over $206 million. In 2021, Spread Group manufactured on demand more than 10 million products for customers in over 170 countries

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UserTesting, Inc.
Andy Dear 

About UserTesting

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