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Go Green: Sustainablility Marketing

Earth Day is April 22, and some brands have taken a cue from the event to raise awareness about the environment and to show how they contribute to the health of the planet. It’s a more obvious fit for some brands than others. 

The online discount retailer, BLINQ, normally appeals to consumers looking for low prices. But come April, which it identifies as “earth month,” it stresses that it is not just about saving money but saving the planet. 

 The BLINQ blog says, “Most items on our website are overstock or returned goods that would have otherwise been tossed — regardless of the condition they are in! That means every time you shop on BLINQ, you’re doing your part to help reduce waste.” 

Still that applies all year round, so for this month, the retailer announced that it partnered with Trees.org to donate a tree for every BLINQ order. In case the pricing is not enticing enough, they also offer customers a bonus of feeling good about the impact of their purchase: “Every order supports sustainability.” 

That’s a real value proposition for some customers, according to a recent Nielsen report. “Sustainability sells,” is what it found. One case in point was chocolate. While fair trade only amounts to one-thousandth of the total chocolate market, its growth rate is double that of overall category growth, when measured in dollar sales, and five times when measured in terms of unit sale growth: 15 percent for fair trade chocolate vs. just five percent for chocolate growth overall. 

Of the three categories covered by the Nielsen report chocolate and bath products both showed substantial lifts in sales from sustainability claims. The lift for coffee was smaller, a gain of one percent vs. a loss of one percent for growth in the category overall. 

Categories like chocolate and coffee, as well as tea and seafood, appear in Stop & Shop’s “Sustainability shopping guide” for Earth Day 2019, included in the supermarket’s April edition of Savory, available in paper form (maybe not so green) in stores. It promotes three labels for consumers to look for: Fair Trade Certified, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and Utz Certified. The last one is less familiar than the first two, though it is linked to the Rainforest Alliance. Naturally, Stop & Shop highlights its own line of products that meet these standards. 

What the supermarket did not include are the bath products that Nielsen indicated were a major area of interest for consumers who value sustainability and cleaning products, s a major area of concern because of toxic chemicals. Those products are the focus of Grove Collaborative . 

Grove offers products made by others, and also under its own label, that appeal to the “eco minded.” As the FAQ page says, “Everything available at Grove meets our four-point standard: uncompromisingly healthy, beautifully effective, sustainably produced and cruelty-free.”  It offers an “Earth Day Store” with savings of 10 to 40 percent off “staff favorites.” 

So all the sellers and products have some claim on promoting sustainability, but what about a beer brand? Surprisingly enough, Corona has made a point of driving awareness about pollution, specifically the plastic that is filling up oceans. To that end, it partnered with Parley AIR Strategy with a goal of protecting 100 islands by 2020.  See the video below:



This April it went a step further in driving the message home, extracting the plastic from the day’s worth of garbage left at  Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro to create a wall about 45 feet long. The sign on it warned visitors “One day, the trash left on the beach will stop you from getting into it.” Though the wall itself is attractive, it does warn of a potentially ugly future.

Of course that’s the point of Earth Day — to wake us up to the need to reign in our pollution and take the extra steps needed to maintain the health of the planet. And if that fits with a brand image, it give marketers an opportunity to appeal to the values of their customer base and promote sales.

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