H&M’s latest sustainability report details the brand’s efforts to utilize renewable energy (as of April 9, 2015, 27 percent of their energy consumption is renewable), improve supply chain transparency, and increase the number of products made from collected garments. But the story doesn’t end with a PDF report: H&M is also offering social- and eco-conscious consumers a breadth of sustainability-minded content on its website, like articles detailing H&M’s use of sustainably-sourced cotton and nearly two dozen program videos on the H&M Conscious YouTube channel.
Moreover, H&M has teamed up with celebrity influencers to promote its eco-friendly mission. The fashion brand partnered with actress Olivia Wilde to launch a Times Square pop-up featuring the company’s in-house “Conscious Exclusive” line of clothing. Meanwhile, actress Victoria Justice is the face of H&M’s Comeback Clothes campaign, which encourages shoppers to bring unwanted clothes to the store to be recycled.
These tactics are helping H&M make its sustainability message more relevant and shareable for consumers. This is an important win, since research shows many consumers want to purchase goods from brands that care about their social and environmental imprint. In 2014, Nielsen found 55 percent of global consumers would be willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies committed to positive social and environmental impact. Coveted Millennials (ages 21–34) appear to be even more responsive to brand sustainability.
Brands that promote their sustainability efforts through marketing campaigns also seem to experience a lift in sales, Nielsen’s research indicates.
To effectively market their sustainability initiatives, brands need to get creative, like Coca-Cola recently has. By carefully targeting sustainability content to select consumers via paid social, Coke has built awareness about its commitment to the community among the people who are most likely to digest—and share—that content.
Take Coke’s 5by20 project, for example. The program aims to empower 5 million female entrepreneurs across the company’s value chain by 2020. To share its work on the project, Coke pushed 5by20 content to women on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube through paid posts. The posts were just the start: Each piece of content shared on social linked back to Coke’s landing page with more details about the project, Coca-Cola’s Tim Goudie shared with Clickz.
As consumers become more educated about social and environmental issues, brands that take action on these topics will become more attractive. Sustainability marketing is a win-win for brands: The community benefits from their positive actions, and brands benefit when sales go up.
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