Engaging Consumers & Encouraging Trials By Marketing Environmental Sustainability

Shutterstock_767486674 Hand holding light bulb against nature on green leaf with icons energy sources for renewable, sustainable development. Ecology concept. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

The environment matters to consumers. A Nielsen report, Unpacking The Sustainability Landscape, found that 73% of consumers were willing to adopt consumption habits that had less impact on the planet. Additionally, 85% of Millennials, closely followed by Gen Z respondents, consider it “extremely” or “very important” that brands initiate programs to improve the environment. 

The preferences of both Millennials and Gen Z are vastly influential because these generations are powerful consumer audiences with strong opinions about how they spend their money. A study from First Insight reported that three-quarters of Gen Zers are willing to pay more for sustainable products. “With Generation Z on track to becoming the largest generation of consumers this year, retailers and brands must start supercharging sustainability practices now if they are to keep pace,” said First Insight CEO Greg Petro. “With every generation, sustainability is becoming further embedded in purchase decisions.”

To meet consumer sentiments with regard to environmental responsibility, major brands are integrating sustainability into their promotions, services and products as part of differentiation strategies and corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaigns. CSR is increasingly necessary for brands to stay competitive with today’s consumers. 

Chipotle Lets You Track The Environmental Impact Of Your Burrito

As part of Chipotle's efforts to encourage conscious consumption, the popular quick-service restaurant (QSR) has released a sustainability tracker called “Real Foodprint.” The tracker calculates the “average sustainability impact” of a customer’s order based on five metrics: less carbon in the atmosphere, water saved, improved soil health, supported organic land and antibiotics avoided.

In the browser version of Chipotle’s Real Foodprint, there's a mock smartphone on which consumers can list their usual orders and see the impact on each of the five metrics. The final data is displayed after a customer places an order via the online menu or Chipotle app.

“While our guests can make good choices for the planet by simply eating at Chipotle, the radical transparency provided by Real Foodprint also holds us accountable to improve our practices and source more sustainably over time,” said Caitlin Leibert, head of sustainability at Chipotle. “It is the combination of transparency for our guests and Chipotle's commitment to higher standards that make Real Foodprint so impactful.”

Chipotle has tapped TV personality Bill Nye for a TikTok video raising awareness about this Real Footprint sustainability tracker. Through the Real Footprint initiative, Chipotle promotes its efforts to encourage meaningful food choices among brand lovers. These sustainability and transparency efforts help build trust and credibility with consumers about the high-quality ingredients used in making Chipotle products. At the same time Real Footprint aligns Chipotle’s social responsibility goals with what’s meaningful to consumers.

Panera Bread Becomes The First National Chain To Label Its Meals As Climate Friendly

A decade ago, Panera Bread became the first national restaurant chain to disclose its calorie counts. In 2017, the company started pointing to the sugar quantity present in cold drinks such as lemonade, soft drinks and tea. Now, Panera will label meals at Panera that are climate-friendly. These “climate-friendly” labels will help consumers find out if the foods they order have less impact on the world's climate than other options.

The Panera climate-friendly label works like this: Whenever the ingredients of a meal, whether it's sandwiches, soups or salads, have a footprint of fewer than 5.38 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent, the menu item is awarded a “Cool Food Meal” badge “as determined in accordance with the rules, procedures and requirements established by World Resources Institute.” The badges encourage consumers to make informed decisions when choosing what to order, and they differentiate Panera from other QSRs not offering this level of information about their environmental impact. Panera is also utilizing its social media channels, including Facebook, to spread awareness of the “Cool Food Meal” initiative in partnership with the World Resources Institute. The brand has set a goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2022. 

Garnier Will Focus On Sustainability By Producing All Of Its Products With Zero Virgin Plastic

Garnier, a hair and skin care brand of cosmetics group L’Oreal, launched a Green Beauty Initiative to reduce its carbon footprint drastically. According to a Garnier press release, by 2025, the brand will produce all of its products with zero virgin plastic. Garnier will use only reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging and ensure all industrial sites are carbon neutral. “Developed with the help of our partners, researchers and customers, this initiative highlights a range of ambitious goals, underpinned by tangible targets. We pledge to lessen our impact on the planet and innovate for a sustainable future. It will take time, but Green Beauty will transform Garnier, and we hope the beauty industry as a whole.”

The Green Beauty initiative will pave the way for Garnier’s upcoming launches, including Garnier Organic Hemp in cardboard packaging and Garnier SkinActive reusable Eco-Pads. Garnier has already begun promoting the Green Beauty initiative on Facebook and Twitter. Garnier also partnered with two NGOs, Ocean Conservancy and Plastics For Change, to help fight the impact of plastic pollution.

In the current world, consumers are actively looking for brands that demonstrate purpose-driven marketing and comprehensive social responsibility strategies. Brands that succeed in meeting sustainability-focused consumer expectations by deploying environmentally conscious promotions and products are likely to create connections with consumers, encouraging long-term trust, loyalty and sales.

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