More and more companies around the world have put a much larger emphasis on their initiatives, values, and support of non-profit organizations. When a brand initiates a sustainable marketing strategy, marketers notice a direct increase in customer loyalty, internal culture, and sales. Consumers prefer to give back when they shop and 81% of millennials expressed that they want to support companies with strong corporate citizenship.
In parallel, the consciousness of our population’s excessive consumption of resources and reliance on fossil fuels has risen rapidly since the 1980s. Much like other corporate citizenship, sustainability often lives at the bottom of many “about us” web pages as brands follow the buzz of eco-conscious initiatives. You have seen this word plastered across marketing campaigns and brand values, but what is the definition of sustainability? For an entity to be considered sustainable, it must meet human necessity without diminishing environmental protection, economic development, and social development. In a nutshell, sustainability affects all, not just a single target market or demographic, which makes this initiative so enticing among brand marketers.
In a decade where sustainability has become a marketing tool, it is difficult for consumers to weed out which brands are genuine in supporting the environment. Likewise, when athletes look to partner with brands that match their values and eco-friendly efforts, they must first determine if sustainability lies at the forefront of a brand’s mission or is dormant at the bottom of their website. Taking a look at which brands have truly made a historical effort to put these values to action is a starting point for comparison. Brands like TOMS, Patagonia, and Beyond Meat have put their environmentally friendly marketing directly into their product production and daily practices.
TOMS not only uses their profit to directly impact communities around the world positively, but they use only recyclable and sustainable materials to create both their product and packaging. Patagonia has taken a different approach; they have been transparent about their use of fossil fuels to create certain products, but they work to create balance by donating 1% of all sales to Earth Tax and continuously search for new methods of production. Beyond Meat is a brand that has created a product that is a direct alternative to a major factor in climate change, which is the animal meat production industry.
While large brands bring global attention to this topic, rising brands like Natreve Wellness have paved the way for plastic and carbon-neutral companies. Neutrality is a major accomplishment in itself for many companies, but Natreve goes beyond, paying plastic collectors in underdeveloped countries a premium to support education, health insurance, and other basic family necessities. Companies that are genuine in working to improve our environment are those like Natreve who naturally enact eco-friendly products and practices. Athletes like WSL surfer Brisa Hennessy, NBA player Danny Green, and tennis player Maria Patrascu have noticed Natreve’s authentic initiatives and likewise amazing product. These athletes have created strong meaningful partnerships with a brand that matches their values. While sponsorships can be powerful in themselves by creating vast brand awareness and media exposure, the most successful partnerships in terms of sales, are those that extend beyond the product itself. Similarly, an up-and-coming wine company, Head High Wines has partnered with a leading production company to deliver decomposable canned wine. Their partnership with eco-expert and World Champion Waterman Zane Schweitzer has created a reliable and relatable spokesman for the company and its sustainable action. Sponsorships like those of Natreve x Brisa Hennessy and Head High Wines x Zane Schweitzer tend to be the most relatable, organic, and successful.
While corporate responsibility and giving back draws consumers in, eventually increasing sales, being genuine in these eco-initiatives is what creates long-term success and consumer loyalty. Ambassadors that share these environmental values are the perfect way for brands to market organically. Since sustainability affects the entire population, it is often overused as a charitable value and is commonly mistaken by consumers as authentic. Consumers and brand partners must notice this discrepancy, but legitimate eco-friendly brands must also work to set themselves apart by partnering with like-minded athletes and creators.