Your Guide To Environmentally Sustainable Sales Promotions

Mar 2, 2021

As a marketer, we imagine you’ve read about the importance of brands being environmentally sustainable. But what have you actually done about it? You’re not alone: despite 90% of executives considering sustainability important, only 60% of companies incorporate it in their strategy.

But with nearly two-thirds (63%) of global consumers preferring to purchase products and services from companies that reflect their own values (and avoiding those that don’t), environmental sustainability is no longer just a nice-to-have. In fact, 81% of consumers feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment by implementing programs to this effect, while 73% say they would definitely or probably change a behavior to reduce their impact on the planet.

With nearly two-thirds of global consumers preferring to purchase products and services from companies that reflect their own values, environmental sustainability is no longer just a nice-to-have.

What’s more, 66% of all consumers are willing to pay more for products from sustainable brands – and this figure is even higher among millennials, at 73%. That could help explain why sustainably marketed products accounted for 50% of consumer packaged goods growth from 2013 to 2018, growing 5.6 times faster than non-sustainable products. Looking to the future, Nielsen predicts sustainable-minded consumers in the US will spend $150 billion on sustainable products this year.

Do we have your attention now?

We know incorporating environmental sustainability into your business strategy is no easy task, but it’s okay to start small. Why not begin with your sales promotions? Here are some ideas to make your sales promotions more environmentally sustainable.

1. Plant trees for purchases

Pledge to match every purchase (or even every 10 or 100 purchases) with a tree planted and not only will you have a positive impact on the environment, you’ll also make customers feel more positive about buying from your brand. As Dr. Matt Johnson, professor at Hult International Business School and founder of neuromarketing blog Pop Neuro, explains, purchasing products that are environmentally friendly in some way can help us compensate for any guilt we might feel about our spending. That means one less barrier for you.

You could even use this activation to tap into the experience economy by giving customers the opportunity to choose which tree they plant, where they plant it, and so on. They may not physically plant anything, but engaging and knowing they contributed a living, growing tree out there in the world could be enough to create inspiration and meaning – a trait that consumers consider 200% more desirable in a brand now than a decade ago.

2. Offer donations instead of discounts

If you’ve read our latest report, you’ll know we’re not a fan of discounts because they ultimately reduce product value, among other things. Plus, research shows customers would rather get more than pay less. An exception to our discount rule would be cutting prices, then offering customers the opportunity to donate their savings to an environmental cause of their choice.

What’s the difference? Partly it comes down to social signalling. This theory says we buy certain things because of what they say about us as a person. By encouraging generosity, you actually increase the value of the purchase by contributing positively to a customer’s image of themselves. They get what they paid for, plus the chance to make a difference (and a statement!).

By encouraging generosity, you actually increase the value of the purchase by contributing positively to a customer’s image of themselves.

3. Give credits for causes

Why not introduce a bit of gamification by offering donation credits with every purchase? Perhaps customers have to collect a certain amount within a given timeframe to activate the donation. They could even work towards different levels of contribution – for example, their credits might pay to plant one tree, or rewild an entire area.

Aside from all the other positive effects we’ve talked about, this strategy has the added benefit of triggering customers’ reward drive to encourage bigger spends and greater loyalty, not to mention helping you form emotional connections with consumers and creating a halo effect by associating your brand with the causes your customers care about.

4. Cut your carbon footprint

Becoming carbon neutral is the dream for many companies, but while you’re working on reducing your emissions you can still offset the carbon you do produce through purchasing ‘carbon credits’ that contribute to projects like reforestation, renewable energy or methane capture and combustion. At RIX we can even work with you to offset experience-based rewards like free flights.

Along with contributing to a healthier planet, cutting your carbon footprint could see your brand benefitting from the ‘buycotting’ movement, where consumers support purpose-driven brands by buying their products. According to research, 83% of people believe it’s more important than ever to support companies that “do the right thing” by doing business with them. (Interestingly, buycotters are more likely to buy from purpose-driven brands than boycotters are likely to resist buying from boycotted brands.)

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is, the next generation of consumers want businesses to take the lead in driving environmental change, and brands that don’t act now risk becoming irrelevant. Of course, it’s important to embed environmental sustainability throughout your business and marketing strategy, but rethinking your sales promotions sure is a good place to start.

Welcome to the Tree League

One of the concepts we’ve been working on here at RIX is a combination of gamification and an environmentally sustainable reward. We call it the ‘Tree League’.

At live sports events, whenever a team scores, fans have the chance to ‘score a goal’ themselves with the help of a digital scratchcard.

When a goal is scored by choosing the 3 correct fields, a new tree planted.

A great concept for any brand looking to engage eco-conscious consumers at sports events, such as the European Cup or the Olympics in 2021.


Would you like to find out how we can help you bring your sales promotion to the next level? Then schedule a free consultation today and get some unique ideas that will help you stand out from your competition!

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