Corporate responsibility’s hot new trend: climate change

Last month, we explored the race to stand out by embracing diversity and inclusive messaging. However, the success of “corporate activism” extends beyond the trend of inclusion. Another area that impacts brand affinity and advocacy is a stance on combating global climate change.

JWT innovation director Lucie Greene aptly explains “sustainability used to be seen as a nice-to-have and a fringe trend, but now it’s a core differentiator and a way consumers are really deciding between brands.” And the data backs up her assertion- according to Nielsen, 81% of consumers feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment (and that level of agreement across demographics is noteworthy in research!)

From ditching plastic straws to outright “strikes” on having children, consumers are making changes to protect their future and want everyone to pitch in. With this growing sense of urgency and lack of action from leaders worldwide, brands who step up to become “eco-leaders” are winning with consumers.

Some brands are taking the lead through investments. One such brand, Patagonia, plans to invest $10 million in “groups committed to protecting air, land and water and finding solutions to the climate crisis.” Consumers are rewarding Patagonia for taking a stand- according to Patagonia’s CEO Rose Marcario, “Any time that we do something good for the environment, we make more money.

Apparel brands are also going green by investing in creative uses for recycled materials.  When Adidas partnered with non-profit Parley for Oceans on a limited edition show made from plastic trash, the sneakers sold out instantly. They have since announced they will use 100% recycled polyester in all of their products by 2024. Even fast-fashion brands like H&M are making huge investments in sustainable products- H&M is currently at 57% of its goal to use 100% recycled or sustainably sourced fibers by 2030.

We see other brands leading the charge by minimizing their environmental impact. Budweiser, and it’s parent company AB inBev, plan to use 100% renewable energy by 2025. Ikea alone has invested $2 billion into renewable energy projects- the company plans to build 416 wind turbines and has already installed around 750,000 solar panels on Ikea buildings.  Both of these corporations are part of the RE100, a global corporate leadership initiative that found “a direct correlation between committing to 100% renewable electricity and achieving above-average financial performance.”

The call for brands to make dramatic changes is no longer just about the greater good. Joining the fight against climate change is a practical business solution that speaks to innovation and forward-thinking.  Consumers are looking for brands to step up- going green is the way of the future and now is the time for brands to stand out as a leader.