Brand Sustainability is Not Just a Trend—It’s the Future: Why Your Brand Should Invest in People and the Planet
By: Lauren Paris, Associate
The theme for this year’s Earth Day (April 22) is “Restore Our Earth,” which focuses on natural processes, emerging green technologies and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems. With climate change and environmental degradation becoming increasingly severe and affecting all facets of life as we know it, there is a dire need for interdisciplinary action. As the world returns to normal post-pandemic, we cannot return to business-as-usual practices—and brands are no exception.
Thankfully, many companies are realizing the need to increase their sustainability initiatives and are beginning to recognize their unique role within the climate crisis. Whether it be fashion or food packaging—every brand has an environmental and social impact in some way.
You may be wondering, what truly is a “sustainable” brand? According to Forbes, a sustainable brand is one that has successfully integrated environmental, economic, and social issues into its business operations. However, among companies that consider themselves to be sustainable only one-third meet this definition.
With consumers becoming increasingly aware of these issues, there’s little room for “Greenwashing,” or deceitful environmental marketing. The need for brands to become sustainable is integral to mitigating humanity’s impact on the environment—not a simple marketing ploy to increase sales.
The data suggests that investing in sustainability is likely to increase the success of your brand along the way. Nielsen reports 66% of consumers said that they would spend more on a product if they knew it was coming from a sustainable brand, according to its 2015 Global Corporate Sustainability Report.
However, it is also important for brands to understand that investing in sustainability goes beyond “being green.” It is vital that brands practice a full-circle approach to corporate social responsibility (CSR), which includes recognizing the impact they are having on all aspects of society, including economically and socially.
In fact, 77% of consumers are more willing to purchase from a company with a CSR pledge — and 73% of investors agree.
With the market becoming increasingly saturated with new emerging brands, consumers have a lot of options. Younger shoppers, in particular, want to see a brand’s values align with their own—especially when it comes to sustainability, as they are the generations who will bear the greatest consequences of the climate crisis. In the coming years, we will continue to witness consumers making the shift towards financially supporting brands that align with their values.
If you’re still unsure if investing in sustainability is the right move from a business standpoint, know that more than 90% of CEOs say that sustainability is fundamental for a company’s success. The evidence is clear that brand sustainability continues to serve as a market differentiator—with major brands such as Patagonia, Amazon, and Merrell making substantial investments in environmental initiatives.