Published 3 years ago.
About a 8 minute read.
This global pandemic is critical and companies should dedicate every resource to helping their customers get through it, but in the spirit of protecting ourselves from one existential threat, we shouldn’t let another one go
is ravaging the globe, and businesses everywhere are trying to cope and stay
afloat, or meet demand and stay
We have witnessed brands pause reusable cup pilots in light of health
or delay their sustainability budget allocations in an uncertain environment.
This pandemic is critical and companies should dedicate every resource to
helping their customers get through it, but in the spirit of protecting
ourselves from one existential threat, we shouldn’t let another one go
completely unnoticed. Here is a quick tactical guide that makes the case for why
and how your brand can and should still pursue sustainability under COVID-19.
Consumers worldwide are watching companies closely. This is a crucial time for
businesses to take up social responsibility. As COVID impacts the lives of
billions, consumers are looking to businesses for support. Any initiative at
this point, or lack of it, is going to sway their perception of your brand and
impact their loyalty to you for a considerable period of time. According to a
poll conducted on a recent Association of National Advertisers webinar, 20
percent of brand marketers have increased CSR spending as a response to the
epidemic. To volunteer to help tackle it is a step in the right direction, but
to maintain your sustainable values through these times of distress builds a
sense of consistency that’s rare to find.
When the world was hit with SARS, 9/11 or similar black swan events, we saw
consumers seek comfort from the businesses they believed in. During critical
times like this, when the whole world is pitching in to heal from a health
crisis, it’s important to conduct listening exercises and address customer
concerns. The aftermath of dark global events is kind to businesses that
listen to customers and make moves to put their worries to rest — investing in
long-term sustainability initiatives could be a solution to reassure them of a
With a lull in sales and business development, you might not be hustling as much
to maintain your day-to-day processes and provide your products/services in the
large batches that are generally demanded. The effort and time that is no
longer being used to conduct your daily tasks can now be invested in developing
strategies to help the business thrive in new market conditions. Every brand
has broader, grander plans around sustainability that tend to stay on the
backburner because you’re occupied with more pressing day-to-day business
concerns — now is your chance to work your way to these sky-is-the-limit goals.
Join us for a transformational experience at SB Brand-Led Culture Change — May 8-10 in Minneapolis. This event brings together hundreds of brand leaders eager to delve into radical lifestyle shifts and sustainable consumer behavior change at scale. The trends driving cultural acceleration are already underway, and you can be at the forefront of this transformative movement.
During the 2008 recession, most businesses were brainstorming ways to increase
consumer spending — how could they make their brand important enough to drive
purchases in a time of financial scarcity? Instead of trying to change this
fresh, budget-focused consumer mindset, many with foresight used the time to
mold their product to suit that particular mindset. Groupon, for example,
launched its business to offer great deals for consumers that want value for
their money. They found a way to sell the idea of buying less — an idea that
dictated consumers’ purchase choices at the time. It all boils down to taking
the time out to really understand and revel in what the consumers want — and
with the current business stagnancy, you have the bandwidth to do just that.
With people actively avoiding human interaction, e-commerce sales are going
through the roof. Online
increased 52 percent compared to the same time last year, and the number of
online shoppers has increased 8.8 percent since the pandemic began. Take the
hint — adopt sustainability initiatives that integrate well with your digital
presence and engage with customers on email, social media, web and e-commerce.
Share sustainability journeys, clean living tips, and provide them a
climate-friendly user experience while shopping with you.
Image credit: rePurpose Global
For example, enable an opt-in tick-box at your point of checkout that enables your customers to contribute to
a sustainable cause, thereby creating a sustainable shopping experience without
the business incurring a cent. rePurpose
Global offers the Everyday Plastic Neutral
Program that easily integrates an
opt-in box and gives customers an option to offset the
plastic content in their orders for less than $1. Moms
Co, an online marketplace for mom and baby care
products, enabled this opt-in with rePurpose and created a brand experience that
better connects with their customers’ concern for safety and clean living.
Trice, a grocery delivery service, also
successfully adopted this feature: 7 out of 10 customers have opted in to pay
and compensate for the plastic in their purchases since launch. This shows that e-commerce can truly unite your customers’ values with your sustainability ethos.
Emails and newsletters are another tried and tested way of engaging with your
audience. Lyft uses its email receipts to communicate its sustainability
mission — the company offsets the carbon emissions of every ride. By following
each ride receipt with the “This and every ride is carbon neutral” section, Lyft
connected its carbon neutrality
to each user journey and created a trusted brand
in the customer’s mind — giving it the upper hand over competitors such as
criticized for business models enabling large-scale pollution.
When the world emerges out of this crisis, consumers will have a renewed
interest in protecting humanity against existential risks such as climate change
and they will seek leadership in that fight from companies. This is a crucial
time for you to anchor your business around environmental responsibility and set
yourself apart from competitors. Business investments in environmental
protection have been growing steadily for years — it’s proven to be profitable,
but isn’t widespread yet to be mainstream (a perfect sweet spot). Adopting
sustainable practices during a time when most consumers are watching could help
establish you as an industry pioneer and a responsible brand.
For example, adidas and Nike continue to battle it out in sportswear for
first place in the minds of their consumers. A few years ago, adidas launched
its collaboration with
Parley for the Oceans
on shoes that use ocean plastic, and Nike followed recently with an eerily
The not-so-coincidental similarities did not go unnoticed. Despite being a
smaller brand, why is adidas leading the way in public perception? Because it
acted quickly during this crucial time when ocean plastics are the talk of the
town, and it created a bigger splash.
Your business is already taking measures to work your way around COVID —
minimizing human contact, disinfecting equipment, making changes to protect and
risk-proof your supply chain. While you are conducting a comprehensive risk
analysis of your supply chain, you can review both climate-related and
health-related risks at the same time. Use this time to make necessary changes
so your business is better protected in the future.
Conduct data audits, use visualization, and do some scenario planning to
identify immediate issues you might be facing. Bad or missing data is a possible
roadblock that could be solved by Sourcemap —
which provides professional assistance on creating transparent supply chains to
recover from your COVID-19 hit. You can also work with rePurpose Global to
source ethically recycled Honest Plastic from our Global Impact Network of
vetted recycling social enterprises across seven countries and three
Maybe your business has never considered sustainability, so this is all very new
to you. With the slowdown, you can start now by understanding it better and
charting out a strategy that works for your business. Here are some resources to
get you started:
What is the Circular
Economy?: What exactly is a
circular economy? How do you do it? What does it mean to businesses and
governments? Why does it matter?
Plastic Neutrality for Businesses: rePurpose Global is organizing three
webinars that introduce the Plastic Neutral Certification to food &
personal care brands,
and organic product brands respectively. As the world's first Plastic Credit Platform, rePurpose makes climate action
delightfully simple for companies of all sizes by helping them remove and
recycle as much ocean-bound plastic waste as they produce.
An Introduction to Plastic
Offsets: Plastic offsets are
an innovative way to compensate for your company’s plastic packaging waste.
In partnership with the Pet Sustainability Coalition, this webinar dives
deeper into how it works, how it can empower consumer brands and what it
means for the world.
Circular Pulse: Bi-weekly curated content
breaking down the hottest trends in sustainability for conscious
Sustainable Brands: Newsletters
highlighting companies adopting smarter, more sustainable business
strategies and practices.
Ellen Macarthur Foundation Circular Economy Learning
Hub: Expand your
understanding of a circular economy and learn how the concept can be
applied to different parts of your business.
Rubicon Global blog: The waste-management giant helps cities and businesses uncover smart, sustainable, data-driven waste and recycling solutions.
SOLVE blog by MIT: Focuses on social entrepreneurship and innovations driving a circular economy.
Published Apr 3, 2020 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST