If you’ve taken in any news in the last twenty years, then you are no stranger to the concept of minding your environmental impact. For brands, assessing their impact and going green can sometimes mean the difference between loyal followers and unhappy consumers. But does marketing with the environment in mind change your campaigns? Yes, but for the better. We’ll explain.
What does it mean to go green?
The term “going green” first leapt into popular culture in the 1970s with Rachel Carlson’s book, Silent Spring. But the roots of the environmental movement in America date back to the 1830s and 1840s. All this to say, the environment has been on people’s minds for a long time.
Going green in the 20th century, especially for a brand, means “reducing the overall environmental impact of your business.” The four main pillars include your overall efficiency (i.e., energy), sustainable materials, compliance with environmental regulations (which can change state-by-state), and your green products and practices.
When it comes to marketing with an environmental impact mindset, all of these elements matter and more. It’s no longer just about communicating your brand’s differentiators for products or services. It’s about assuring your audience that your brand cares beyond profits.
What consumers want
Consumers these days want more than what your brand sells. They want to know that when they support you, they are also supporting values such as sustainability and social consciousness. In other words, do you have a brand purpose?
New statistics show that 47% of consumers “would pay more for a sustainable product.” Plus, Gen Z is a “rising economic force” that is “far more aware of the environmental effects of their purchasing decisions than their elders.” And this generation’s values seem to represent future overall buying habits.
The good news for brands is that sustainability sells with the market “projected to reach $150 billion in sales by 2021.” Brands minding their environmental impact also have an opportunity to reach these new consumers where they already are––and to engage in new trends that can set their brand apart.
Getting the attention of these consumers is the real trick. They have strong values, high expectations, can look up your environmental legitimacy at the tap of a screen, and they aren’t afraid to hold businesses accountable.
Modern marketing with a mission
Marketing with a mission has one major problem: “the fact that most green marketing campaigns fail to connect with sustainable shoppers.” So, what does this mean for your brand? Connection and authenticity is everything.
When you market with an environmental impact mindset, you need to consider every element of your campaign, not just the convenient ones. If you have printed materials, are they using recycled or “upcycled” materials and non-toxic ink? If you’re making the switch to a more sustainable material, have you let your audience know about it in a creative new campaign? And what is your plan in the long term? Sustainable marketing means positioning your brand “as an active figure in an environmental or societal issue.”
The takeaway here: “the more transparent a business is, the more we trust them. At a time when the details of a business’s practices are going to end up on the internet anyway, they might as well be forthcoming about their efforts and drawbacks.” Consumers don’t expect your brand to be perfect, but they do expect you to make an effort when it comes to environmental impact. But remember to have fun with it. This is still marketing after all, and your consumers expect the wow-factor.
If you’re still stuck on how to apply these values to your marketing strategy, there are dozens of brands leading the pack with their sustainable campaigns and practices. We’ve chosen our favorites to highlight:
Perhaps the most obvious brand is Patagonia, which has made sustainability part of its ethos since the beginning. Although the brand still circulates their printed catalogs, they became the first FSC-certified 100% postconsumer catalog on the market. On top of this, the fashion brand uses recycled polyester, nylon, and organic cotton in its apparel.
Starbucks used its enormous reach for the greater good when they announced the opening of 10,000 “Green Stores” by 2020, as well as their plan to eliminate plastic straws from all stores. And, since 2006, the brand has “offered a cup with 10% postconsumer recycled paper fiber” in addition to encouraging patrons to bring in a reusable cup.
The beer company tasked its marketing agency with a sustainable campaign that showcased how the beer is “brewed with only natural ingredients and an open mind.” To do so, they created an outdoor installation that integrated live moss to create their iconic green bottle.
McDonald’s in Sweden used its international influence to raise awareness of the dwindling bee population. They created six permanent bee hotels with the idea: “Without pollination from bees, a third of the food we eat would be threatened.” The company applied its foodservice role to a serious issue in a creative, eye-catching way.
The resounding environmental impact
Ready for your brand’s positive impact to reverberate? It’s time to make sure your marketing efforts align with your environmentally-aware mindset If your brand is doing all it can to go green, be sustainable, and communicate efforts to your audience in creative ways, then your marketing is meaningful and beneficial. The consumer landscape is changing, which means brands must adapt. Good thing you have all the tools at your disposal. There’s never been a better time to make something meaningful.