Green business strategies are not only good for the planet, but they can also be extremely beneficial for winning over customers. This is especially true for millennials who tend to be much more environmentally conscious than their older counterparts. Many companies are now taking advantage of the rise of this green trend to make more money, win over customers, and help save the planet at the same time.
Here are 4 ways that companies are using green business strategies to win over customers.
1. Harvesting wood from sustainable forests
There are only a limited number of trees in the world, and we need trees to help create oxygen to keep our air suitable to our needs. Deforestation and the out-of-control harvesting of trees have been a major problem in nations such as Brazil, Mexico, Bolivia, and Peru in recent years. In fact, roughly 17 percent of the Amazon rainforest has been lost to deforestation in the past 50 years, mostly so that ranchers could have lands for their cattle to graze on.
In an effort to curb deforestation, however, a number of companies that use wood for their businesses have started harvesting wood from sustainable forests. Ikea is a perfect example of this. Ikea now harvests 50 percent of all of its wood for its furniture products from sustainable forests. The company also harvests 100 percent of its cotton from farms that meet the “better cotton standards,” which mandate a reduced use of pesticides, chemicals, water, and energy.
2. Using apps to compare environmental footprints of products
In a bold and highly environmentally friendly move, several top clothing brands have created apps that allow fashion designers to learn about the environmental footprint of the various fabrics and fashion materials they use. This way, designers can choose to avoid using the materials with the largest carbon footprints and instead use the ones that are much more sustainable and/or environmentally friendly.
Two companies that have started using this technology are Nike and Patagonia. Nike has not always had the best track record when it comes to environmentalism. However, the company has been on a path towards change in response to consumer preferences for green products for the last decade or so. In fact, Nike even used recycled materials in over 75 percent of its shoes and apparel. This is incredible to think about.
Since 2012, Nike has used material from over 5 billion plastic bottles to manufacture its products. That is 5 billion plastic bottles that would have otherwise ended up in landfills. When it comes to using recycled materials and sourcing greener products, Nike is one of the companies currently leading the charge and setting a good example for brands around the world.
3. Creating revolutionary products that are much greener than alternatives
There is currently no better example of a company that is using this strategy than Beyond Meat, the company that took veggie burgers to the next level. Veggie burgers have been around for a long time, but they have never tasted anywhere near as close to real meat as they do today, thanks to Beyond Meat and its like-for-like competitors.
Beyond Meat’s burgers produce a whopping 90 percent fewer greenhouse gases than cow-based burger alternatives. Considering that the red meat industry is one of the leading causes of greenhouse gases, it is extremely significant that Beyond Meat produces so few greenhouses gases in the production of their burgers. Supposedly, they taste almost exactly like real burgers too!
Beyond Meat’s incredible innovation is a perfect example of how companies are creating extremely high-quality products that are greener and allows them to compete with less green products in an effective way.
4. Optimizing supply chains for reduced carbon emissions and pollution
In the past ten years, a number of high-profile companies have taken substantial steps to clean up their supply chains and develop green business strategies. This process can involve choosing suppliers that use greener products, pollute less, and use less energy in their operations.
One company that has been at the forefront of the battle to make supply chains greener is Unilever. In 2010, Unilever CEO Paul Polman set a goal of doubling the company’s business while halving the company’s environmental impact in just ten years. Since then, Unilever has made tremendous strides towards reaching this goal. Working with greener suppliers and cleaning up its supply chain is one of the main ways that it has been able to make substantial progress.
To recognize Polman for the work that he has done in protecting the environment, the United Nations presented him with the Champion of the Earth award in 2015, a prestigious award more commonly given to politicians, scientists or activists. Polman’s award is therefore a testament to the hard work that he has put in and the success that his company has had in making the world a better and greener place.
Not already going green? You may soon be left behind by your competitors
Considering the fact that roughly three out of four millennials are willing to spend more money on sustainable products, it is highly likely that the green trend is going to continue for many years. This is especially true since millennials will soon be entering their peak earning years.
Generations that follow millennials will most likely follow the trend for preferring sustainable products set by millennials because they will be even more impacted by global warming than millennials will be. Assuming this occurs, consumer preferences for sustainable products will not be going away anytime soon.
Savvy companies are well aware of the fact that green business strategies are the future and are making changes to prepare for this future today. Nike, Unilever, Ikea, Patagonia, and Beyond Meat are just some of the companies that are adapting well to the green movement. Nike’s transformation has been especially impressive, and should serve as an inspiration to companies all around the world who want to become greener.
Is it time that your company starts taking sustainability more seriously?