Why sustainability data matters in B2B


February 27, 2023

Buyer expectations? Regulatory demands? What’s the real reason why B2B sustainability data matters so much?

Sustainability has never been such an influential factor in purchasing decisions. The B2C market has led the way in embracing sustainability issues, particularly among conscientious Millennials, the demographic with the most buying power. The drive for environmental transparency will accelerate with Gen Z, nicknamed by Forbes as ‘the sustainability generation’, expected to dominate buyer decisions in the next decade or so. 

But what does this mean for B2B markets? Historically, B2B buyers have made decisions on three primary factors: cost, convenience, and quality. But B2B sustainability data has fast become an essential part of any corporate purchase decision to meet the demands of customers, stakeholders, and legislators. Purchasing materials, goods, and services from climate-aligned partners is now a priority for many, and manufacturers must respond. 

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Tightening legislative pressures on sustainability data 

Businesses are facing increasing pressure from regulators to disclose sustainability data. Digital Product Passports (DPP) are a looming requirement for many manufacturers operating within the EU, starting with electronics, batteries, and textiles value chains. The aim of the DPP is to secure informational transparency for every single component of a product to empower better decision-making at every stage of the product’s life cycle. This will significantly ramp up accountability for each actor in a product’s value chain, from producers to recyclers and everyone in between. In the US, the SEC has proposed enhanced, standardized climate disclosure rules that could be implemented as early as 2023. 

This legislative pressure has seen the world’s largest corporations demanding more from their business partners. Companies like Salesforce, Microsoft, and Nvidia expect suppliers and partners to set carbon reduction goals and follow sustainability reporting requirements. Those that can’t, or won’t, will be excluded from the vendor list.  

As governments and multinationals set new policies for B2B sustainability data, first-tier suppliers follow suit. This process will then sweep through the supply chain. “Greenwashing” isn’t going to cut it. Businesses know customers and investors expect transparency and meaningful sustainability data – and will soon be legally required to publish it. Early adopters have a clear advantage over competitors who fail to provide clear sustainability data, opening the door to valuable new customers.  

intricate parts of a product

Strengthening B2B buyer relationships 

To stay competitive, manufacturers need to respond to their customer’s demands for more sustainable products and processes, whether B2C end users or B2B buyers. Both commercial and domestic consumers are scrutinizing company supply chains and awarding business based not only on profitability but also on sustainable products and practices. 

A survey by Savanta and Oracle found 70% of a broad spectrum of consumers and businesses would consider breaking off their relationship with a company if it did not take sustainability or social issues seriously. Sustainability has become a major factor in customer loyalty, and with the growing consumerization of B2B buying, it can no longer be ignored. Considering it can cost ten times more to acquire new customers than retain existing ones, it’s savvy to prioritize meeting their expectations.  

The broader business impact of B2B sustainability data 

The case for transparent sustainability data extends beyond profit potential. A business’s eco credentials are now an important factor in attracting top talent. An IBM survey revealed 70% of employees feel a sustainability program makes a company more appealing. In addition, companies that perform well on ESG metrics have higher employee satisfaction and lower turnover than those with a lower emphasis on sustainability.   

Displaying credentials that show your shift towards a more circular economy can also have a powerful impact on your business model. Circularity can reduce waste, drive down your raw material bill and allow you to command premium prices for sustainable items or materials. 

Finally, genuine sustainability progress can be leveraged in marketing materials and incorporated into your brand identity. With transparent sustainability data on your side, you can make confident claims without fear of greenwashing accusations. It will also protect your brand from future PR quandaries as the pressure increases on sustainability late adopters

The solution for sustainable transparency 

The need for B2B sustainability data is clear, but to properly leverage this crucial information, you first need the right software in place. PIM is the best option for manufacturers seeking to consolidate their sustainability data into a single, accessible source of truth. Data can be collated and optimized for every stage of your product journey, from material sourcing all the way through to maintenance and recycling processes.  

Not only can PIM for B2B help meet demands for sustainability data, but it can also scale with your business, providing an invaluable solution that ensures transparency and compliance to support your ambitions. PIM can also be utilized to meet internal expectations for sustainability information. Whether your marketing team is looking for data on a product’s recycled materials or your compliance team needs to provide supply chain data to regulators, the right PIM solution can help you meet these needs. 

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  • Brooke Cunningham

    Chief Marketing Officer

    As Chief Marketing Officer, Brooke is responsible for inriver's end-to-end marketing strategy.

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