17 / 11 / 2023

Sustainability Should be Communicated as Something that the Customer Benefits from

The last speaker of the Bothnian Coastal Route project’s Sustainable Coastal Tourism webinar Xavier Font, talked about how to market and communicate sustainability practices. He encouraged everyone to experiment with their communication because it gives new opportunities to learn from what you’re doing.

Xavier Font, Professor of Sustainability Marketing at University of Surrey, was one of the speakers during the Sustainable Coastal Tourism webinar. Font presented four key benefits with sustainability marketing and communication; improve your service, improve your customer satisfaction, increase your customer expenditure, and increase loyalty and reduce seasonality. 

Font gave a lot of concrete examples on how to adapt these key benefits into your own business. To improve your service, you can do small things, for example to be trustworthy, honest, humorous, and engaging. 

Psychologists suggest that speaking positively about your local food suppliers is more effective than only announcing the greatness of your restaurant; this approach is considered more trustworthy, according to Font.

Sell sustainability as something that benefits the customer 

Font explained that you can improve your customer satisfaction by making customers feel good, using appealing language, helping them take decisions, and telling customers what’s in it for them. 

– Stop selling sustainability as this is good for the planet. I know that’s why you’re really doing it, but from a customer experience point of view, you must first sell the message of what’s the benefit for the customer. 

Some examples that Font brought up in connection to this is to tell about your suppliers on your website or in leaflets and using storytelling for emotional appeal. For example, by telling that you put your kitchen waste into a compost instead of sending it to a landfill, or by describing that your own sheep’s have given their winter wool to use as the hotels roof insulation. 

– Sometimes the best communication is non-verbal communication. The communication that makes it easier and possibly makes it fun for the customer to do the more sustainable thing. 

According to Font, increasing customer expenditure is possible by making customers feel special, giving them things to do, and improving their experience. Unique service and sense of exclusivity increase willingness to pay. 

– You need to find fun and simple ways of making your customers feel special and feeling like they receive something unique.

Encourage customers 

Font also gave examples on what the businesses can do to increase loyalty and reduce seasonality. These examples are, for example to make them aware, weatherproof your offers, and give customers reasons to return to your destination.  

An example that Font brought up in connection to this is that he suggested that everyone should go to their website and change any message that use the words no or don’t and change them. This is because nobody likes receiving a message that says don’t do something. 

– We need to change our method of communication to something that encourages the customer to move away from the thing that you don’t want them to do and encourage them to do something else. 

Customers are looking for quality

Font described that customers are looking for price, quality, location, and convenience. What they also want is to hear that sustainability brings better quality. 

– As a business, we need to make it easier for the customers to choose a sustainable product or an experience, that will also fulfil their other needs. Nobody wants to hear that you need to pay more for sustainability. People are prepared to pay for quality, not for sustainability. As a business you must make sure that sustainability is communicated as something that the customer wants. 

– Experiment with your communication. Don’t accept that you have always communicated one way and there’s no need to change, because every single change that you make, gives you new opportunities to learn from what you’re doing. 


The Bothnian Coastal Route project, including northern Finnish and Swedish destinations, aims to increase awareness of the coastal route around the Bothnian Bay and over the Kvarken strait as an attractive travel route for both international tourists and locals. 

Watch the webinar recording HERE.
Find Xavier Font’s presentation HERE.
Read more about the Bothnian Coastal Route project HERE. 

Xavier Font, Professor of Sustainability Marketing at University of Surrey, presented four key benefits with sustainability marketing and communication.