Gregg Demers Lyndsey Wright and Caelin McDonald
Published 1 year ago.
About a 5 minute read.
Image: Rodnae Productions
Climate action is increasingly important to incorporate into a brand’s value proposition to customers and consumers. These four steps will enable brand managers to take clear and meaningful actions — which, in turn, can connect with consumers and differentiate products in the market.
Today’s consumers want to feel good about the products that they use daily. When
searching on store shelves or adding items to their virtual baskets, products
that communicate a climate-friendly mission stand out the most. Branding is the
most direct way to communicate to climate-conscious consumers; by being clear
and concise, brands can let buyers know that they share these same values.
According to a 2022 Forbes
about consumer demand, Gen X consumers’ preference to shop sustainable brands
has increased by nearly 25 percent, and their willingness to pay more for
sustainable products by 42 percent. In fact, consumers across all generations
are now willing to spend more for sustainable products. A challenge for brand
managers is to find compelling ways to connect with consumers and demonstrate
credible actions, particularly related to the topic of climate action.
While sustainability can encompass many avenues and be defined in various ways,
one place to start this journey is with your company’s climate action strategy.
These initiatives should always include four key elements: measuring your
emissions, reducing emissions, offsetting unavoidable emissions, and
communication your actions. With 72 percent of people personally concerned about
their environmental footprint, a substantial opportunity exists in the market
for companies to attract and retain business by making their climate actions
Since consumers want to make climate-conscious decisions and brands want to
attract customers with these values, brand messaging and communication is key.
Measuring carbon emissions is a crucial first step towards developing a climate
action and communication strategy. When brands measure their emissions,
consumers can be confident that the brand is conscious of its environmental
footprint. Emissions can be measured at the product level or at the corporate
level. When a product’s emissions are measured, calculations consider its full
lifecycle to get an accurate view of its footprint. Product-level
provide a much more granular perspective than corporate or facility-level carbon
footprints and can be of much greater benefit to brand managers seeking to
develop a compelling climate action strategy and communication plan. When
measuring emissions, be sure to use a methodology that aligns with the
Greenhouse Gas Protocol and ISO
Standards — standards set in place to ensure
that emission measurements can be reliably reported upon and credibly reflect
the environmental footprint of the brand.
Carbon footprints are beneficial because they provide an understanding of how
your product or company is impacting climate change. In turn, your brand can
better understand where the hotspots of your emissions are coming from and then
develop an action plan to reduce those emissions moving forward.
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Once your brand has an accurate understanding of its emissions and carbon
footprint, it is important to set a carbon-reduction goal and define a plan to
achieve it. Due to the clear need to take climate action now, it is essential to
set ambitious goals for both the near and long term. One way to do this is by
setting science-based targets — a top-down
approach to reduce
emissions by striving to limit global warming temperatures to 1.5°C before 2050.
Although there are lots of ways to engage your company in efforts that support
reduction, there are a few common approaches that can offer a good place to
start — including switching to more sustainable packaging
or engaging in less air
When reduction strategies have been maximized, offsetting unavoidable emissions
becomes an option for brands that are seeking carbon neutrality. Carbon
offsetting is the practice of supporting a project that avoids or reduces carbon
emissions, while often also supporting a variety of UN Sustainable Development
Goals — for example, clean
water and sanitation, forest protection or clean
in other parts of the world, often developing countries, which have less
infrastructure and fewer resources for proactively avoiding or reducing carbon
When choosing an offsetting project to align with, it is important for brands to
ensure that the project is of high
and transparent in its methods and goals. Offset projects should be validated by
an external source that can verify clear standards and meaningful climate
action. Measurable standards for offset projects help brands deliver on the
promised results and benefits to the environment, as well as local communities.
Projects measured by the Gold Standard and Verified Carbon Standard are
universally recognized as being of the highest quality and are audited annually.
Brands that invest in quality offset projects can be confident that their
actions are credible and will withstand public scrutiny.
Brands that make strides in measuring, reducing and offsetting their carbon
emissions should clearly communicate to their customers that they are committed
to climate action. The challenge is how to do that in a compelling and tangible
way, while avoiding getting too technical or providing information that is not
meaningful or relevant to the consumer. Integrating your climate actions into
your product’s value proposition and communication strategy should be grounded
in transparency and relevance. A product label by itself may be insufficient,
due to the variety of environmental labels that exist. A product
that provides the opportunity for consumers to learn more about the specific
climate actions being taken by the brand, versus a more generic standard, is one
way to cut through the clutter of competing messages. Unique product tracking
numbers and QR
that provide access to brand-specific climate action initiatives allow for
tailored messaging that can build trust and credibility with consumers.
Climate action is increasingly important to incorporate into a brand’s value
proposition to customers and consumers. The four steps listed above will enable
brand managers to take clear and meaningful actions — which, in turn, can help
to connect with consumers and differentiate products in the market. While
branding can encompass numerous competing priorities, one clear way to help
shape your product and brand, as well as to gain a competitive advantage in the
market, is to proactively engage and in climate action strategies and
communicate your actions.
Published Oct 18, 2022 11am EDT / 8am PDT / 4pm BST / 5pm CEST