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Brands Need to Take a Stand for Sustainability

Individuals cannot save the planet — brands can


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Shea Cole

3 years ago | 2 min read

I have a personal responsibility to care about climate change.

It is my responsibility as a parent to leave an inhabitable planet for my child. It is my responsibility as a worker in the wellness industry to care about clean air, clean water, and sustainable food sources because these are foundational to health.

Most importantly, it is my responsibility as a human to take care of the one thing that all humans have in common, despite our differences — this planet we walk on, and all it provides to help us exist and thrive.

Like many people around the world, I am on board and will do my part to create less waste and wreak less havoc on our environment. But in my lifetime of conscious living, I alone will never make a dent in the reversal of climate change.

Even if every individual took steps toward living a greener life, it would not be enough. The biggest culprits are corporations and we need their commitment in order to succeed.

The good news is, I have another way to make my dent on climate change. I’m a marketer. I get paid to make people listen; to change behaviour. It’s my job to build a brand that is in tune with culture and contributing to society because those are the types of brands that people love, and when people love a brand they are loyal to that brand.

What we can do as individuals to save the planet pales in comparison to what brands can do. Entrepreneurs, marketers, brand-builders: we have the power to decide what our brands do, and with that power comes responsibility.

Sustainability is good for business.

  • 81% of global respondents feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment. (Nielsen)
  • 66% of U.S. consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands, and 73% of global Millennials are willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings. (Nielsen)
  • For 37% of US consumers, concerns about global warming are now a key factor that influences buying decisions (Gartner)
  • Products that have sustainable claims on their package are outperforming the growth of conventional products in respective categories. (NYU Centre for Sustainable Business)

Brand-builders and executives should take note of the mounting evidence that climate action is a driver of brand favourability and purchase intent, and that transparency and sustainability impact consumer choice, especially for younger generations.

Let’s use our marketing budgets to do good.

The destruction of our environment is real but it need not be our inevitable demise. It’s not lack of innovation that is holding us back from saving the planet; it’s lack of collaboration. If brands get on board with sustainability, we can create change.

Brand commitment signals company commitment, and companies have the deepest wallets and the strongest voices. When companies work together towards shared goals, they are (for better or for worse) more influential than even our governments.

If brands get on board with sustainability, we can create a waterfall of climate action. Powerful brands have influence on the masses, and the masses can in turn pressure more companies to take action through their purchase (or boycott) decisions.

With morals and metrics in mind, brand-builders: it’s time to get climate committed.

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Shea Cole

VP Marketing at Fullscript; Ex AB InBev. Experienced marketer: both agency side and client side; CPG and B2B; beverage alcohol and health tech; from start-up to fortune 500. MBA from University of Toronto, Brand Management focus. Talk to me about brands, leadership, strategy, and growth.


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