Discerning Taste

Sustainability reporting for evolving audiences

An evolution of taste

In the not-so-distant past, coffee drinkers had pretty limited options: do you take cream or sugar? Thankfully, that’s no longer the case today. Within walking distance of our office in Encinitas, we have three great coffee shops where we can get anything from a single-origin pour-over to a breve latte. Which got us thinking…

Just as baristas craft a variety of drinks using a handful of ingredients, sustainability reporters have the opportunity to craft a variety of communications from the ESG ingredients included in a typical sustainability report. And, while coffee drinkers’ tastes have evolved, so too have the tastes and preferences of sustainability audiences.

Corporate sustainability is no longer a niche subject important only in the minds of a handful of regulators and environmentalists. As our collective understanding of the value of sustainability has grown, new audiences have joined the conversation.

To effectively engage this growing and diverse audience, we (as sustainability communicators) must adapt. We have to stop talking only about what we’re doing – summarizing our accomplishments in an annual report – and start talking about why what we’re doing matters. Furthermore, we need to challenge ourselves to be more creative – with both our content and our methods of delivery.

In the following pages, we’ll take a look at how our audiences’ tastes have evolved and explore how reporting organizations are adapting their approach to offer audiences the “flavors” of sustainability that they crave.

Although differences in individual tastes vary widely, our overall point is pretty simple: you can’t serve the same plain-ole cup of Joe to everyone and expect them to enjoy it. Start with an understanding of your audience and then tailor what you serve accordingly.

The end result will make them thirsty for more.