3 Ways Your Brand Can Unlock More Profits With Sustainability
How to make more money by supporting the environment–on any budget.
How to make more money by supporting the environment–on any budget.
According to millennials, climate change is the most urgent challenge of our lifetimes. And the rise of eCommerce isn’t making that challenge any easier to address: over the next decade alone, eCommerce packaging will come to account for a full third of our solid waste.
But what if we told you that your brand can become a part of the solution while building deeper relationships with your customers and ultimately making more money?
It’s true. And the major reason it’s true is that American consumers want to buy from so-called “high purpose” brands, especially those making a positive impact on the planet.
The meta-study below compares data from 3 recent consumer surveys to illustrate that a clear majority of Americans want brands to take a stand on important social issues.
And according to a plurality of Americans, climate change is the defining social issue of our time. But just how much do consumers care about corporate impact on the environment? As it turns out, a lot:
According to Forbes, 92% of consumers are more likely to trust companies with ethical and environmentally sustainable practices.
And according to Deloitte, 67.1% of millennials (the generation with the most spending power) either sometimes or always check a brand’s sustainability & ethics practices before deciding to purchase from them.
It’s important to understand that these consumers aren’t just expressing a preference in response to a survey question. Over a decade’s worth of evidence shows that purpose-driven consumers actually vote with their wallets.
For instance, the same study from Forbes found that 87% of consumers are more likely to buy a product from a company with ethical & environmentally sustainable practices.
While a 2020 consumer study from IBM found that more than two-thirds of purpose driven consumers will pay a premium of 35% or more for sustainable purchases, such as recycled or eco-friendly goods.
On the brand research side, a landmark, 10-year study from Gallup concluded that high-purpose brands create a level of revenue-driving brand affinity that their no- and low-purpose counterparts just can’t match:
Brands that generate fully engaged, emotionally connected customers sell more, make more money, and are better able to withstand the stress of economic downturns.
How much better do high-purpose brands do over time?
When Kantar crunched the numbers for their comprehensive Purpose 2020 White Paper, they found that “brands with a high sense of purpose have seen their brand valuation increase by 175% over past 12 years vs a median growth rate of 86% and a growth rate of 70% for brands with a low sense of purpose.”
It’s ok to read that over. Over the past decade plus, high purpose brands have grown a full 2.5X faster than brands with a low sense of purpose.
So if you’re ready to do right by the planet, boost your brand affinity, and outgrow your competitors over the next decade, here are 3 smart ways you can start building a more sustainable business today.
In this article we outline 3 ways to become a greener business, ordered by the amount of resources required to get started:1. DIY Certifications & Eco-Conscious Business Tools
Brands ready to commit significant energy and capital to a ground-up transformation should focus on item 1, while brands looking to create meaningful, messagable environmental impact with more of a turnkey solution should focus on items 2 and 3.
If you’ve got the time and drive, there are a number of organizations and frameworks that can help you rethink your business processes, hook up with environmentally focused commerce partners, and get certified as an eco-conscious brand.
Below we cover some of the most trusted environmental certifications your business can apply for, and a few of the more comprehensive tools your business can use to reduce its operational carbon footprint.
These are great places to begin if you want to remake your business from soup to nuts. But what if you want your brand to facilitate impactful change, but don’t have the time, capital or control to say, retrofit all your production facilities? These next two options are for you:
1% For The Planet invites corporations to commit 1% of annual profits to their portfolio of vetted, high-impact environmental projects.
Their funding practices are transparent, a point on which eco-conscious consumers rightly insist, and they don’t stop at planting trees. Instead, they work with a plurality of local projects on urgent environmental issues to make a positive impact on a variety of ecosystems.
We’ve written in the past about why our clients love working with 1% FTP, but in a nutshell:
In our experience, working with 1% FTP is a great way to begin transforming your brand into a high-purpose organization and set yourself up to reap the ongoing benefits of nurturing a highly engaged audience.
But while 1% FTP provides a fantastic pathway to announcing and sustaining a firm commitment to environmental justice, earmarking profits for non-business ops can be a challenge for many young and low-margin businesses.
If you want to steward meaningful environmental change through your business, but don’t have a lot of extra dollars to invest in transformation, our favorite high-impact, low-outlay solution is to add carbon offsetting to your checkout process.
The idea of carbon offsetting isn’t new. And at this point, there are lots of carbon-offsetting tools that enable merchants and their customers to neutralize the environmental impact of shipping. (In fact, Shopify’s own payment gateway, Shop Pay, automatically carbon offsets every shipment resulting from a checkout).
We recommend EcoCart over most of these tools for a few important reasons, but the most important is this: Only EcoCart allows merchants to offset the impact of the whole manufacturing process rather than just shipping.
This holistic approach to carbon offsetting is more impactful, more transparent, and more engaging than approaches that only account for shipping, and it usually only costs your customers around 1% of their order total to neutralize a purchase.
Accounting for manufacturing is an important distinction for the obvious additional benefit to the planet, but also because it communicates to your savviest customers that you’re not settling for a band-aid solution. They know that shipping accounts for just a small portion of the footprint your products create. But in the carbon offsetting space, EcoCart stands virtually alone in addressing this less convenient reality.
And EcoCart’s sector-leading value proposition carries over to the value they deliver to their merchant partners. When you sign up with EcoCart, you don’t just get another app to install. You get a fully customizable experience, storytelling tools, and more. Here are some of the reasons we advise our clients to work with EcoCart over the off-brand offsetters:
• EcoCart merchants see an average cart conversion increase of 14%. That’s right, your customers will tend to spend more with you when given the option to enfold a purchase with their values. Speaking as experts on conversion optimization, we never ignore an opportunity to create a 14% conversion increase with a single change to the checkout experience.
We’ve outlined just 3 ways to start building a business that does more for the environment, more for your customers, and more for your bottom line. But whichever option aligns most with your brand’s lifecycle phase and priorities, our advice is the same: get started today.
The planet won’t wait, and neither will your millennial and gen z customers. Besides, becoming a more conscientious corporate citizen isn’t just good for the world. Over and over, adopting high purpose practices has been shown to be good for business. In eCommerce, we call those kinds of rare win-wins, “no brainers.”
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