Sustainability is no longer a source of political division: it’s a biological necessity. We’ve long seen brands old and new touting their eco-friendly methodologies in order to ensure their future both materially and with their customer base. Here are some of corporate sustainability’s current top trends:
Sustainability advertising can easily tend toward the pull-at-your-heartstrings, doom-and-gloom scenario of a world without trees (see: Prince Ea’s “Dear Future Generations: Sorry” video), but it doesn’t have to be that way. Humor and catch-phrase-worthy lines have long been a marketing staple, but they’re equally useful in sustainability campaigns. Over the past year, Bolthouse Farms has come out with “food porn data,” Organic Valley has a plan to “Save the Bros,” and BMW’s Katie Couric-driven ad for its electric i3 have all elicited laughs.
2. Transparency Campaigns
Transparency campaigns — such as those of Seaworld and McDonald’s — have lately been gaining momentum, but it’s very much a case of “go big or go home.” The issue is that transparency campaigns invite even more scrutiny, so that the slightest inconsistency can do more harm than good.
Peer-to-peer collaboration, combined with mainstream value economies, have brought big rewards on a variety of fronts, including both profit and sustainability. Consider, for example, the UK-based GoodGym, a group of runners who combine their exercise with volunteering — visiting isolated elderly people, repairing infrastructure. They’ve now partnered with the mainstream footwear brand New Balance. GoodGym gets great shoes and sponsorship while New Balance gets the positive social points of supporting a good cause, reaping the rewards in sales.
4. Circular Business Models
A circular economy is one in which everything is recycled: biological elements safely reenter the biosphere while technological elements are reused at high quality. It’s long been a beautiful concept in theory, but it wasn’t until recently that many companies began to employ the idea. For example, the Closed Loop Fund is a group of major brands that have created a $100 million fund aimed at providing municipalities access to zero and low-interest loans to build comprehensive recycling programs.
5. City-Brand Partnerships
Public-private partnerships could be a good kind of money-in-politics thing. There’s a lot that government could learn from the private sector and that cities could gain from company expertise and resources. For example, Ford has recently launched 25 mobility experiments and challenges with cities around the world, including car-sharing and other initiatives.
6. Smart Living
Many brands are investing in ways to make our homes smarter and more sustainable. Whirlpool, an early adopter, has unveiled concepts for ‘homes with a conscience’ and ‘a socially networked kitchen.’
Overall, the trend in sustainability signals a shift from our collective short-term concerns of the past to long-term thinking for the future. This is one trend that makes both dollars and sense, especially for us here at SOLID.
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