At the Christchurch Brainy Breakfast last week we were treated to a trio of speakers on the topic of Sustainability in Business Marketing.

Hosted by the inimitable Tim Jones with his extensive knowledge of B Corp accreditation, we were treated to views from across skincare, wine, and energy businesses.

Liam Gunson from TRA opened the morning by explaining that their research has shown two things.

Customers are looking for businesses and government to lead on sustainability. 70% of households are prepared to change their behaviour but feel they can only do that through recycling. They are looking for genuine guidance.  

Businesses need to get their own house in order. Only 35% of companies are taking any action currently and only 4% are taking action and measuring it.

Colleen Itterman - Jeuneora

Jeuneora is an e-commerce skincare and supplement company based in Christchurch, which has undertaken the B Corp journey. Jeuneora has grown quickly from a single supplement product to multiple product lines after unwittingly being at the forefront of social media influencer marketing.

Sustainability has always been important across the business including

  • Using marine instead of bovine collagen,
  • teracycle recycling programme,
  • Jeuneora giving programme to donate to charity,
  • carbon positive sugar cane plastic, and
  • NZ based production.

Looking for a way to fit all these things together and to understand if they were doing the right things in the right way led Jeuneora to look at B Corp certification, initially with the idea that it would be a great marketing tool.

What they discovered

  1. B Corp is about more than just environmental and social impact, it covers the whole lifecycle of the business and how they interact with their staff, customers and the community, a holistic way to look at sustainability.  
  2. Giving staff the ability to choose their level of involvemnet led to all staff coming to ever meeting and being fully involved in the process
  3. Don’t compare yourself to the best in the market, compare yourself to your industry standard – B Corp is rigorous but achievable.
  4. Shoppers want independent verification to assist them with choosing brands which align with their values.
  5. There is a need to educate the marketplace on the different certifications using various marketing channels, always communicating the meaning to the market.
  6. Find partners and experts to help you
  7. You don’t need to be perfect you just need to start. Knowing where you are currently, allows you to plan to be better.

Dr. Tim Baird – Lincoln University

Tim’s extensive research into the wine industry in New Zealand has shown that sustainability is important to NZ wines in relation to their branding and competitive advantage and that growers are interested in reducing climate change and energy consumption among many other things.

Governance of wine growing in NZ is covered by several bodies including Sustainable Wine Growing NZ, which is mandatory and ensures that all growers who want to be at trade shows and export their wine are following a set of predefined rules.

Saavy consumers are looking at how companies are working on reducing carbon footprints. So showing how they are equal to or better than wines from other locations is important.

However, what if

  • no-one ever asks you about your NZ Sustainable Wine Growing Certification?
  • the compulsory nature of the scheme means that it is effectively something that all growers are already doing?


  • People are at the heart of what drives sustainability
  • There are opportunities to market sustainability but only if there is a consensus on what sustainability means
  • A compulsory programme has less value as it has to have low barriers to entry
  • Networking with winegrowers leads to better outcomes and more buy-in.
  • Everyone needs to be on-board and going in the same direction to compete with leaders such as Canada.
  • Wine growers need to see a financial impact from sustainability to embrace it.

Rhys Musson – Meridian Energy

Meridian has maintained a 100% renewable energy profile since its inception, with a strong emphasis on sustainability throughout its operations. Rhys shared an anecdote from his time at university that underscored that good marketing can’t hide a poor product. Fortunately, Meridian has a range of great products that Rhys has had the privilege of working with.

Meridian recognises the importance of not just talking the talk, but also walking the walk when it comes to sustainability in business. Greenwashing is easily identified by consumers, so it is crucial to start with internal efforts to promote sustainability.

Meridian needed to evolve as a business for several reasons, but crucially because their brand story was limited by only talking about their production being 100% renewable when there are many other stories to tell

What the data insights told Meridian

  • Climate change is real.
  • There is a sense of hopelessness, people feel they can’t have an impact because the problem is too big.
  • Companies that take meaningful action can create a sense of hope that change is possible, creating a circle of hope and sustained action.


Creating a distinctive asset was important in Meridian’s marketing effectiveness and attribution. Nature! While polarising, offers a clear brand promise.

The future for Meridian

  • Prove why customers should use Meridian
  • Find more ways to tell more of the stories
  • Tell more stories more of the time

Tim Jones’ takeaways

  • No-one reads sustainability reports, you need punch, authentic, story driven content about the good that you’re doing that people can relate to.
  • Make it business as usual so it just a normal part of your operating processes.
  • Just start – something is better than nothing.
  • You need to prove the good that you are doing.

In Conclusion

Showcasing the diverse perspectives and experiences on sustainability in different industries, this event emphasized that businesses need to take meaningful action towards sustainability and educate consumers on certifications and standards. Every effort counts, and taking action is the first step towards a better future for our planet.