Cecilia Beard
Senior Content Writer @ Yotpo
October 18th, 2021

Enable customers to take part in your brand mission through loyalty.

Table Of Contents

The next decade’s consumers won’t decide to buy on product quality or price alone — they’ll buy based on sustainability and a brand’s dedication to environmental action. According to our latest consumer loyalty survey, over 84% of global respondents said they are more inclined to buy from a brand whose values align with their own. This number jumps to well over 90% when you look at Gen Z respondents. Climate change, environmental impact, and product sustainability are becoming top priorities for shoppers. A recent McKinsey study notes, “One out of four consumers say they are planning to focus more on environmental issues and will pay more attention to social aspects in their shopping behavior.”

While this is true especially among Gen Z and Millennials shoppers, the demand for more sustainable practices is taking place across generations. According to Forrester’s Analytics Consumer Technographics Benchmark Survey, 2021: 79% of U.S, 83% of U.K., and 85% of metro Chinese Progressive Pioneers believe that companies are responsible for protecting the environment. Corporations’ dedication to environmental action is no longer a trend or a checked box; it will determine the future success of your brand.

But, brands have to show their commitment to sustainability genuinely. It can’t be a one-time tagline or a hollow marketing campaign. Shoppers need to feel that your brand’s dedication to sustainability connects with their own beliefs and that it makes a greater impact over time.

Connecting shoppers with your brand values

Taking action is the primary way to show shoppers you mean business when it comes to social responsibility and sustainability, but how do you make your high-level corporate mission connect with individual shoppers? How do you catalyze shoppers to take action themselves? And how do educate and ensure that customers are aware of your dedication to sustainability?

You turn to loyalty.

Loyalty programs are the solution for connecting shoppers with your brand values. Through strategic campaigns and reward structures, you can align with shoppers on what matters most. And, you allow members to take part in active change.

You can incentivize shoppers to learn about and participate in your sustainability goals. Reward for educational content — customers can read blog posts about your brand mission or watch sustainability-focused videos — as well as customer action, like donating, recycling, or participating in a beach clean-up.

“Show that your brand cares: offer carbon-neutral shipping and showcase your desire to help heal the planet. Customers are far more likely to continue shopping with a brand they know are actively pursuing sustainable initiatives, especially among younger generations.

Include incentives for environmentally-conscious behavior in your loyalty programs, showcase stats on your website about carbon-neutral offsets and include information about environmental efforts in emails and other comms. These strategies not only help in making the earth a better place but can also be an effective marketing tool to attract customers who are interested in contributing to a sustainable future.”

— Michael Wadsworth, Partner Marketing Manager, EcoCart

A lesson in sustainable loyalty: tentree

Tentree is a sustainable fashion brand that plants ten trees for every item purchased. When building their loyalty program, they started with a central question: “How do we make our brand mission resonate with members while also turning them into repeat buyers?” They knew their shoppers would feel connected to a program where they could tangibly see the positive impact they made on the environment, so they created Impact Wallet.

Sustainable action is at the heart of tentree’s program. And, it’s fun. Every item purchased from tentree comes with a unique QR code that reflects the trees planted by the shopper. After scanning the code, customers can explore their trees and “save” them through their loyalty profiles. The saved trees then pop up on the member’s individual interactive forest.

From the palm of their hand, shoppers can see their personal impact on sustainability, including:

  • The number of trees they’ve planted
  • What types of trees they’ve planted
  • How much carbon they’ve sequestered
  • How much land area they’ve reforested

Impact Wallet also includes tiered “Achievements” to encourage customers to take action. These range from registering a shopper’s first tree to planting 500 trees and sequestering 75 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.

By structuring their loyalty program around social responsibility, tentree reinforces their brand mission and allow their shoppers to play an active role in combating climate change.

More environment-driven loyalty programs in action

There are many sustainable brands that have managed to build effective, mission-driven loyalty programs that enable customers to take part in their larger mission. By making sustainability a central part of their program, these brands drive shopper engagement and action.

Here are a few more use cases from brands we love to help inspire your own loyalty campaigns.

Earn points for taking action: Girlfriend Collective

Sustainable activewear brand Girlfriend Collective’s aptly named loyalty program The Collective allows members to earn rewards for shopping and taking part in eco-friendly actions.

Members can earn 100 points by posting a picture of themselves wearing Girlfriend items and doing good by the Earth — planting trees, participating in a beach clean-up — with the hashtag #GoodJobGF.

Earn points for recycling: Credo Beauty

Beauty brand Credo Beauty incentives shoppers to recycle their used products in-store through their partnership with Pact, a beauty-focused non-profit organization. To avoid introducing more virgin plastic into landfills, shoppers can deposit small plastic bottles, tubes, compacts, and more in Pact bins throughout the brand’s physical retail locations.

What do consumers get out of this donation? Ten Credo Rewards Points per product recycled.

Convert points to donations: Plae

Plae, a specialty footwear brand for kids, offers shoppers the opportunity to donate their accrued loyalty points to a cause. Shoppers can donate up to 4500 points, equivalent to $45, to Plae’s current recipient, Race4Good. Customers feel empowered by their loyalty membership to contribute directly to a cause they stand behind. For sustainability-focused businesses, eligible causes could focus on nature conservation, reforestation, ocean de-pollution, and more.

Amplify your brand values with loyalty

Make sure your sustainable actions are seen and recognized by shoppers by integrating your brand mission into your loyalty program. Customers will delight in their contributions to sustainability, social justice movements, and more, and you’ll build out your loyal customer base.