ECO-GREEN IS THE COLOR OF MONEY
In the previous column, I discussed several marketing strategies you can undertake to connect with the eco-green sustainability consumer.
But before you consider any strategy, you need to consider the legitimacy of your business’s connection to sustainability. Greenwashing, as it is called, wherein you verbalize your belief and adherence to the cause without backing up your words with substance, is beyond a no-no. It is an absolute to the sustainability of your company. Sustainability enthusiasts approach all verbalization cynically and suspiciously. And if they find that a company is Greenwashing, the viral impact through social media as well as traditional media will impact your company like fungicide.
A sustainability strategy of great value is your packaging. There are many forward-thinking packaging companies that are aggressively pushing the sustainability boundaries.
Coca Cola ranks at the very top tier of distributors of plastic products with life-periods of a thousand years that end up in landfills and oceans. Many venture capital companies, banks and stock firms are firmly behind the ESG movement – Environmental, Social and Governance principles. They will only invest in companies that live up to those standards.
Climate Bank in Florida expresses this on their website: “At Climate First Bank, our vision is to re-imagine finance as a force for good and become the most impactful bank contributing to the drawdown of atmospheric CO2. Backed by Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles, Climate First Bank is a full-service community bank offering personal and commercial banking services with a focus on environmental sustainability.”
While Climate is a regional bank, the upper tier of investment companies that stand behind ESG include BlackRock, Vanguard, Charles Schwab, and others.
Coca Cola obviously wants every investment dollar available and is pushing forward on alternatives to plastic bottles. The alternative is paper bottles.
The challenge with soft drinks is the fizz and acidity. A Danish company, The Paper Bottle Company (Paboco), has developed a paper bottle that Coca Cola will be testing with its fruit drink, Adez. Absolut, the vodka-maker, is due to test paper bottles in the UK and Sweden of its pre-mixed, carbonated raspberry drink. Carlsberg Brewery is testing its own prototype of a paper bottle.
Paper bottles already exist to meet the needs of other products. Ecologic, in partnership with Seed Phytonutrients, came up with the first shower-friendly paper bottle. Its recyclable and compostable material was made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper. Instead of glue, the bottle is held together by interlocking grooves. To make it water-resistant, the bottle featured an inner plastic lining made with food-grade recycled plastic that’s 95% thinner than regular plastic bottles.
Certainly, the impact of a paper bottle on the ecology will be extraordinary. But there are already many innovative packages that are achieving significant results.
In 2010, sports-fashion brand PUMA, in partnership with Yves Béhar of fuseproject, developed a more sustainable packaging, The Clever Little Bag, that reduces cardboard use by 65% and carbon emissions by 10,000 tons each year. The Clever Little Bag also eliminates the need for a plastic bag with the eco-friendly carrier tote that consumers can reuse and recycle. According to PUMA, the Clever Little Bag saves 8,500 tons of paper, 20 million megajoules of electricity, 1 million liters of fuel oil, and 1 million liters of water every year.
Sustainability has no product category limits. The premier champagne, Veuve Clicquot, created the first eco-friendly packaging solution in their category. The bottle is now packaged in biodegradable, recyclable, and isotherm containers made from potato starch, which is safe and easily transportable. It’s held together by Velcro so that consumers can reuse the packaging for other drinks.
There is even a bag that is bio-degradable in 60 days, the GOBAG, made in Poland. They are biodegradable carrier bags made from flax-viscose non-woven fabric. The flax-viscose fabric is produced with flax fiber industrial waste, which means that it doesn’t exploit any natural resources. Innovative technology enables the bags to naturally decompose approximately 60 days after being discarded, which means that they don’t require expensive recycling or disposal in landfills.
Packaging is a critical element in the consumer’s decision-making process. Untold millions are spent in creating designs that capture the mind of the consumer. Today, companies realize that the sustainability aspect of their packaging is just as vital.
Having an eco-green message on your website about your packaging is a powerful message not to be ignored, especially since your competitors will have one sooner or later.
Another strategy is integrating your eco-green message in a seamless way in your communications. By doing so, you are imprinting in the consumer’s mind that your company and the sustainability principles to which you adhere are one and the same.
Lego does this flawlessly.
As soon as you land on Lego’s sustainability page, you’re greeted by the image of a tree house made of Lego. It ties the idea of sustainability and Lego together in a vivid, inextricable way. Their powerful mission statement appears just below the image: “We want to play our part in building a sustainable future and making a positive impact on the planet our children will inherit.”
The mission statement uses words that define the very essence of Lego and tie superbly into its message:
“Play our part….in building…our children will inherit.”
Throughout, the images continue to engrave the integrated message.
“We want to play our part in limiting the effects of climate change by minimizing the environmental impact of our business. In December 2020, we announced a new science-based target that commits us to reducing our absolute CO2 emissions by 37% by 2032 compared to 2019. An absolute target means that we’re reducing the total amount of emissions being emitted.
“Our ambition is to make LEGO® bricks from more sustainable sources by 2030 without compromising on quality or safety. This is a bold ambition, as we need to develop entirely new materials that are safe and strong enough to be passed down through generations. A LEGO brick of the future needs to fit seamlessly with a brick made over 60 years ago.”
Where do you get across your sustainability message? Everywhere. Your traditional advertising, as well as your web site, social media, podcasts, white papers, and videos are all popular pathways for exposing your message.
If there is any company facing an uphill battle regarding sustainability, it would be BASF, the plastics company. Recognizing this, and recognizing the impact of sustainability, BASF set out to master limiting the distress that plastic and chemical-based products have on the planet.
“Circular economy is a principle already in practice at BASF. It includes using resources wisely and designing products with the minimum amount of waste and impact on the environment. The goal is to move away from a linear model of ‘take, make, dispose’ toward a regenerative, circular model where resources are reused and recycled, and waste is reduced.”
There are numerous advantages to incorporating environment and sustainable practices:
- Increasing the credibility of your brand.
- Creating a relationship with a very committed and dedicated consumer market.
- Creating a relationship with a consumer market that continues to expand.
- Strengthening all your marketing endeavors.
- Having many platforms to communicate your positive actions to enhance sustainability.
- Identify your company with one or more non-profits and, by doing so, connecting with a strong, sizable base of the non-profit’s adherents.
And, if you need further encouragement, here are a number of companies that don’t: Pantagonia, TOMS, Starbucks, IKEA, Timberland, Apple, Unilever, The Body Shop, Johnson’s and Johnson’s, Nike, H&M, and Hershey.
Take a close look at their company market evaluation if you want to see how green is the color of Eco-Green.
Interested in developing your creative thinking skills to grow your business? Maybe even disrupt your business category? Subscribe to my “Unleash Your Creative Thinking” free email course. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Creative Thinking” as the subject.
Chanina Katz has over two decades experience in major Madison Ave. ad agencies developing highly successful strategies and award-winning campaigns for such blue-chip clients as Colgate, RJ Reynolds, Hilton, Home Depot, General Mills, KFC and many others in a wide variety of package goods and services businesses. He provides marketing services for a range of businesses, from start-ups to major corporations. He lectures on marketing and creativity. He can be reached at Bullseyemarketing1@gmail.com.