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A Look at Sustainability Marketing

The demand for sustainably produced goods is on the rise globally, as more eco-conscious consumers search for ways to minimize their environmental footprint following a summer of devastating wildfires, record heat waves and unprecedented flooding in Germany and around the world. “People being impacted by climate personally, and climate change in the broad sense has definitely risen to one of the top problems that individuals recognize,” said Randi Kronthal-Sacco, author of a recent report published by the NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business, in collaboration with information and analytics company, IRI. “For that reason, I believe that there has been a large uptick in interest by consumers and a large uptick in interest by manufacturers and retailers to deliver more sustainable supply chains and more sustainable products.” Here’s how brands are taking action.

Wheels on the Road
This month, Mercedes-Benz announced plans to promote its line of electric vehicles (EV) via a 20-city tour that includes experiential activations, like a museum-style display of EV prototypes plus an interactive map of potential charging stations across the country. The 2022 EQS Sedan, Mercedes’ first car in the line, will hit markets later this year as part of the carmaker’s commitment to sustainability, which is becoming increasingly important to drivers. In fact, according to an EY survey of 9,000 consumers in 13 countries (Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, the UK and the US), 41 percent said their next vehicle will be electric.

In the UK, an online car dealership Carwow promoted its fleet of electric cars in a “Fuelled Off” campaign, following ongoing petrol shortages caused in part by pandemic-related delivery delays. The first week of October saw a 59 percent surge in demand for Carwow EVs, while in September, EVs comprised 31 percent of every car sold. Billboards featuring British YouTube star Mat Watson advise customers, “Don’t be fuelish, Go EV.” Carwow projects that combined sales for electric and hybrid vehicles will comprise half of all new car sales by the end of the year.

Companies Get Ethical
Along with car manufacturers, other companies are taking strides to address the ongoing climate crisis. In Singapore, a staggering 89 percent of post-pandemic consumers plan to prioritize purchases made from brands that have clearly stated ethical policies in place, according to a recent survey. And 87 percent are willing to spend more money on a product they know has been ethically produced or sourced, while 59 percent of online shoppers are making a concerted effort to purchase local and thus help decrease their carbon footprint.

As the world’s largest restaurant chain, McDonald’s can affect change when leading by example. The food group recently announced plans to stock their popular Happy Meals with more environmentally friendly toys, as a means of appealing to both parents and kids who are hungry for green alternatives. Instead of using mainly plastic, toys will be made from sustainable materials—such as recycled plastics, cloth, corn, soybeans or sugar cane—by 2025.  Coca-Cola, meanwhile, partnered with mobility company Lime to encourage the recycling of the new sip size Coke bottles, which are themselves made from 100 percent recycled plastic. Consumers who buy one of the beverages and pledge on the company’s microsite to recycle the empty container, receive a promo code for a free 10-minute ride on a Lime bicycle or electric scooter. That has the additional benefit of encouraging environmentally friendly micromobility—aka, travel by small vehicles at rates less than 15 miles per hour—which is especially popular with Gen Z. According to a Longitude study commissioned by ING, 44 percent of this cohort plans to up their use of alternative travel in the post-pandemic world.

Addressing Climate Change
Around the world, brands are making an effort to minimize the devastating effects of global warming. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), a UK government department, is helping businesses understand ways to better communicate their green intentions without misleading consumers—either intentionally or by mistake. A recent study found that 40 percent of green claims made online were potentially misleading, a trend the CMA hopes to curb. “The Green Claims Code has been written for all businesses, from fashion giants and supermarket chains to local shops,” said Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA.

In the U.S., Tide partnered with the NFL as part of their #TurnToCold campaign, which encourages consumers to wash their clothes in cold water. Roughly 80 million households in the US watch NFL games, and if all those fans made the switch from hot H2o, Tide predicts a drastic cut in greenhouse gas emissions—equivalent to removing over a million cars from the road for a year. Participating fans can enter to win a Tide Cold Washer, which is a washing machine that speaks in the voices of 10 NFL players including quarterback Matt Ryan, who appears in accompanying TV spots.

Climate change isn’t only about shifting weather patterns. Its fallout poses countless risks, from national security threats to the increased spread of respiratory illnesses like Covid-19. The stakes have never been greater, and brands are stepping up to take real action while responding to consumers’ increasingly vocal earth-friendly demands.