Brands including Patagonia and tentree in fashion, Beyond Meat and New Belgium Brewing in packaged food, Who Gives A Crap and Seventh Generation in bathroom products are redefining their industries with sustainable strategies that transcend Earth Day.
Between 57% and 70% of consumers change buying preferences based on the environmental performance of brands, according to various surveys. Your future employees are also watching to see if you treat sustainability as a mission.
Here are three keys to making your journey to sustainability a partnership with customers.
Make it real: Embrace science-based environmental metrics. Using and reporting science-based environmental results makes your sustainability progress concrete and directly comparable to the performance of other brands.
Once there is a science-based foundation for your reporting, you can take the next step and add your own tangible metrics to the customer experience. Count how much material your company recycles, share the details of your water conservation program, or provide the details of your company’s transition to renewable energy.
No brand is an island: Acknowledge the journey. Encourage conversation about your brand’s results, and welcome criticism. It may help solve ongoing sustainability challenges.
The economy is years away from sustainability, and marketers must avoid making claims of progress without also sharing the challenges still ahead. A veneer of perfection is easily dissected by critics who will keep the steps your company has not taken at the forefront of the debate.
Sustainability requires partnerships across your supply chain and market, including with your customers, who are the keys to making circular strategies work.
Pricing: Make the cost and value of environmental progress easy to understand. The “green premium” is an oft-cited barrier to sustainability, but green consumers are willing to pay it. Undisclosed reasons for higher prices work against brands, but customers do support clearly articulated environmental strategies.
Clothing maker tentree plants 10 trees for each item it sells. The company is growing sales approximately 35% a year and has planted more than 56 million trees. Each product listing includes CO2 reductions, water savings, and reports how much waste the company eliminated compared to traditional clothing manufacturers.
Customers don’t just pay the tree premium, they often add more trees to orders, paying to amplify tentree’s reforestation efforts.
Lead or be swept out of the way. Business must lead the clean economy charge or it will suffer with the planet and customers as global warming accelerates. This is not Cassandraism, but the inevitable result of packing our atmosphere with more CO2 than any time since the Pliocene epoch that ended 2.6 million years ago.
Don’t wait for next year’s Earth Day to take environmental action. Weave your sustainability story into every facet of your brand experience.