The environment has been playing on everyone’s mind lately.
Activism around climate change and a surge of sustainable products has created a new shopping landscape packed full of purpose-driven initiatives and eco-friendly ventures.
People want to save the planet. It’s the only one we’ve got, after all (until we can populate Mars or maybe the moon, but that’s a long way off).
Consumers are keen to buy from brands that have the same beliefs as them and that are openly showing their hand when it comes to doing better for the world, its creatures, and its communities.
Green marketing is both the act of creating environmentally friendly products and marketing them in a sustainable way. Not to be confused with greenwashing, where big-name brands pretend they’re doing their bit for the planet but are actually using it as a front to build favor with shoppers.
Green marketing can look like a number of things in action. It can look like an eco-friendly product, sustainable packaging, recyclable materials, purpose-driven business practices, or simply marketing messages focused on Doing Good Things.
At its core, it’s promoting sustainable products in sustainable ways from a sustainable business foundation.
We hinted at greenwashing above, but let’s dig a little deeper into what this increasingly common phrase actually means.
We’ve all seen it in action: big brands loudly voicing their stance on the planet and throwing money at campaigns to prove they’re acting in sustainable ways.
But, unlike green marketing that actually promotes an eco-friendly product in an eco-friendly way, greenwashing is when a business spends more money and resources on marketing themselves as a sustainable brand than actually being a sustainable brand.
This is by no means a new thing. Throwback to the 80s, when Chevron (an oil company, no less) commissioned a series of print ads to showcase its dedication to helping the environment. In reality, the brand’s infamous “The People Do” campaign ran in tandem with them actively violating the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
Today, greenwashing is everywhere, from fast fashion brands like Uniqlo (whose cute fictional cat, Doraemon, wasn’t quite cute enough to cover up the brand’s impact on the planet), to major banks, furniture stores, food brands (we’re looking at you Nestle), and everything in between.
Enough about greenwashing, though. Here are some actual green marketing success stories.
Outdoor clothing brand Patagonia prides itself on being the antithesis to fast fashion. Its Worn Wear initiative lets customers trade in their old, worn clothing to buy a new item or a pre-loved garment. The idea is that customers invest in their clothing to extend its life rather than throwing it away the moment it gets tired and holey.
This isn’t just a “look good” campaign. Every part of it has been created with sustainability in mind–the returned clothing is cleaned using CO2 technology to save water and energy.
Everyone wants to make their home look good, and Shades of Green appreciates this–in a sustainable way. The brand’s focus is on creating healthier living spaces decorated with non-toxic, eco-friendly products and providing educational content on green building products and practices.
Phone cases are notoriously throwaway items. Pela noticed this and wanted to do something about it. Their products are made solely from sustainable materials as they strive for a waste-free future. As well as biodegradable iPhone and iPad cases, Pela sells eco-friendly watch straps, sunglasses, and accessories.
On top of sustainable materials, the brand practices key green initiatives, like improving its manufacturing efficiencies and offsetting its carbon footprint through carbon credits.
Ten Thousand Villages wanted to shine a spotlight on talented artisans from across the globe–many of whom don’t get the recognition they deserve when their products are often white-labeled and sold on with an extortionate profit margin.
The brand creates selling opportunities for artisans in developing countries through transparent price agreements, payment before export, and interest-free microfinance investment, helping out makers from the very beginning. Each page of their site carries through on its purpose-driven efforts by sharing the maker’s story alongside the product.
Popular shoe brand Timberland has earned a name for itself as an environmentally-focused brand. It doesn’t just plant trees (which is great, but often a surface-level activity for brands that want to be seen as being green), it also practices green business etiquette on the daily–using sustainable materials, dramatically cutting waste, and using recyclables at every part of the process.
Ready to promote your green message and shout about your sustainable endeavors? Here’s how you can do that.
Discounts are all the rage at the moment, but dropping your prices in the hopes of landing a new customer can have a detrimental impact on your bottom line and brand perception.
Instead, offer shoppers the chance to donate to their chosen charity when they make a purchase from your store. Givz makes it easy to select a charity and automatically serve a percentage-based donation for customers to spend.
LOLI encourages its customer to donate to raise $10,000 for its supported charities.
Registering to a sustainability framework and certification, such as becoming a certified B Corp, shows you’re actively working towards a better future. You’re essentially tied to a regimented framework of dos and don’ts that provide a checklist of ways you can make your brand more sustainable. This proves you’re not just talking the talk, but you’re actually walking the walk by demonstrating your commitment to social and environmental causes in an official way.
Consumers won’t know you’re on a mission to save the planet if you don’t tell them about it–the key is to keep it authentic.
Take Patagonia, for example. They don’t overtly brag about their Worn Wear initiative but have instead created videos and written content about helping local communities and saving forgotten lands that they share with their audiences to instill trust and build a reputation as an inherently green brand.
It’s not enough to look green from the outside, you have to be green from the inside, too.
Sure, using sustainable materials and planting thousands of trees a year is great, but to really make a difference you have to incorporate environmentally-focused practices throughout your business, from the coffee your staff use in the break room, to the materials used to make the chairs you sit on and the carbon footprint of your website.
Two minds are better than one and strength comes in numbers–so the sayings go. Collaborate with other eco-friendly brands and sustainable initiatives to further your impact on the planet. UK supermarket Waitrose is a prime example of a brand doing this. It has partnered with the indigenous Mului community to protect a rainforest in Borneo the equivalent size of the land they use to grow palm oil for their own products.
There are so many good things you can do for the planet–you can plant trees, collaborate with purpose-driven initiatives, use sustainable materials, and even create weekly litter picking events for your team–everything is on the table and nothing is off-limits. But it’s worth thinking about what would have the biggest impact for your brand. Don’t just follow suit because everyone else is doing it.
Think about who your customers are and what they believe in, what your ultimate mission is as a brand, and what you want people to remember your brand for. Tailor your sustainability efforts to suit your brand, your customers, and your products.
Don’t just say you’re going to plant trees or swap to recyclable plastic for your latest line of water bottles–prove it. Show consumers you’re actively working towards a goal and let them hold you accountable. This increases authenticity and trust, leading to better brand perception and a loyal customer base.
An eco-friendly brand is eco-friendly through and through. To build awareness of your sustainability efforts, ensure your message runs through your marketing campaigns as well as on your website.
Create targeted messages to reach people who will believe in what you’re doing to build your customer base and connect with like-minded people.
For example, if you’re running an ad campaign for your latest line of summer sandals, lead with the fact they’re made from sustainable materials or that they have been recycled from plastic bottles.
Consumers today are actively seeking out brands that share the same values as them. They want to invest in brands that are doing good things for the planet, and they have a more positive perception of companies that are doing their bit.
While shoppers are seeking out sustainable brands, they’re also giving non-sustainable ones the boot. In fact, they will actively avoid brands that aren’t focused on eco-friendly initiatives.
34% of consumers say that lack of information is stopping them from choosing brands with ethical practices
Focusing on sustainable initiatives and eco-friendly practices is obviously great for your business and the planet, but it can also be great for your bottom line too.
It’s good to know that consumers are actively seeking out brands that are sustainable and follow the same beliefs as them, but what do they actually want from brands? What does this look like in action?
Givz is a very vocal advocate of green marketing.
We believe that brands attract more loyal customers and perform better when they focus on things everyone cares about, like the planet. Our ultimate aim is to help you grow sales while creating social impact and reducing your dependency on discounts (because they’re not great for business!).
Through a post-checkout popup, shoppers can unlock a donation amount based on their order spend and give it to a charity of their choice. Providing donation incentives like this has helped our customers generate a 90% increase in website conversions, a 30% increase in Average Order Value (so they can unlock higher donation incentives), and a 50% increase in cost savings compared to discounts.
Green marketing today is a no-brainer. It’s a must. For the planet, your customers, and your brand.
Shoppers are actively seeking out brands that share their values and are doing their bit for the planet, and green marketing shows that you’re dedicated to making the world a better place. Use the tips we’ve outlined here to get started and draw inspiration from brands that are excelling in their green marketing efforts.