Conspicuous Conservation

Even as political consensus on climate change remains elusive, a majority of Americans (53%) now describe themselves as environmentalists according to Kantar. And their concerns and priorities with regard to sustainability are increasingly influencing their purchase decisions as evidenced by Nielsen’s estimate that products with sustainable attributes now make up 22% of total store CPG categories. Meanwhile, sharing your ethical, humane, and eco-friendly brand choices has emerged as a strong marker of identity and status. From bringing your own straws to driving a Tesla, sustainable choices now signal your personal enlightenment and your values. We expect 2019 to see many more brands introduce new products, services, and organizational initiatives built on sustainable practices as a result of this intensifying consumer priority. ​​

Manifestations

Emerging fashion labels such as Allbirds, Everlane, and Rothy’s have built their brands from a sustainable foundation. While other brands have introduced eco-positioned lines, their stories are resonating with consumers looking for more than just a planet-friendly SKU or two. All these brands have been especially savvy with their social-first approach to marketing, leveraging their shoppers’ tendency to advocate for sustainable choices among their personal social networks.​

With plastic straws being 2018’s mass eco-enemy, companies such as Starbucks and McDonald’s have announced single-use plastic reduction plans, but look to brands such as Lush and Tata Harper that are transitioning to zero-waste product portfolios that eliminate the need for plastic packaging. By one estimate, each human now generates about 88 pounds of plastic a year, a figure that brands will be smart to help decrease.​

Later this year, P&G plans to launch DS3, a liquid-free line of personal and home-care items that they describe as “enlightened clean.” Rival Unilever has been actively acquiring and launching a variety of sustainably positioned brands including last year’s introduction of its Love Beauty & Planet line. Recognizing that sustainability’s appeal is also driving the luxury consumer, Chanel has invested in biodegradable packaging firm Sulapac.​

Emerging fashion labels such as Allbirds, Everlane, and Rothy’s have built their brands from a sustainable foundation. While other brands have introduced eco-positioned lines, their stories are resonating with consumers looking for more than just a planet-friendly SKU or two. All these brands have been especially savvy with their social-first approach to marketing, leveraging their shoppers’ tendency to advocate for sustainable choices among their personal social networks.​

With plastic straws being 2018’s mass eco-enemy, companies such as Starbucks and McDonald’s have announced single-use plastic reduction plans, but look to brands such as Lush and Tata Harper that are transitioning to zero-waste product portfolios that eliminate the need for plastic packaging. By one estimate, each human now generates about 88 pounds of plastic a year, a figure that brands will be smart to help decrease.​

Later this year, P&G plans to launch DS3, a liquid-free line of personal and home-care items that they describe as “enlightened clean.” Rival Unilever has been actively acquiring and launching a variety of sustainably positioned brands including last year’s introduction of its Love Beauty & Planet line. Recognizing that sustainability’s appeal is also driving the luxury consumer, Chanel has invested in biodegradable packaging firm Sulapac.​

implications

Sustainability is only going to grow as a purchase motivator for consumers, so what is your brand already doing to address environmental issues? Are you communicating these efforts? If your products have sustainable attributes, consider how you’re facilitating consumers’ ability to share and advocate for these attributes within their personal networks. ​