Inthe year 2018 Swedish environment activist Greta Thunberg started a movement that not only shook the world leaders but also impacted how people make their purchase. Now coming back to the year 2020 where the world is going through a deadly pandemic, unemployment is breaking records and facemask has become mandatory. In this worst time, only one thing that came out on top is eCommerce business. According to Adobe Report total eCommerce spending in may hit $82.5 billion, 77% more than last year.
“According to our data, it would’ve taken between 4 and 6 years to get to the levels that we saw in May if the growth continued at the same levels it was at for the past few years. We typically don’t expect to see surges at this level, at any time outside of the holiday season. For context, last year’s holiday season drove $142.5 billion dollars from November 1st to December 31st, and that was a 13% year-over-year increase.” Vivek Pandya, Adobe’s Digital Insights Manager to Forbes via email
Now you might have the question, Why I started the article with environment activist & followed it with the growth of eCommerce? Answer to your question is social awareness of Green eCommerce (Brand that provides environmentally friendly products or services). In the last few years, the consumers are most aware of the climate change than ever before and oh boy the companies have listened to them. Not only the consumer brands but the agencies like Contentcoms, GreenhousePR & Enviral are tapping into the Green industry by providing their marketing services to only carbon-conscious brands.
Thanks to activist like Greta Thunberg & other climate-conscious consumers we’re seeing more & more eCommerce brands going green or applying green practices. In this article will talk about the definition of green e-commerce, why brands should adopt this change and the paradigm shift in marketing strategy to meet the new consumer expectations & case study of the brand that I and my team worked on.
What is Green eCommerce?
Green eCommerce, or eco-friendly eCommerce, refers to the practice of selling products online using methods that limit the impact on the environment. (sustainablebusinesstoolkit, 2016).
Companies like Etsy have been quite successful enabling the green business and fulfilling the green eCom mission. According to the Business blog, their program helped brands to reduce their packaging waste by 215000 tons. Green is Gold for Brands
“Many models are currently being tested, from hyperlocal warehouses to drone deliveries, eco-friendly urban delivery services and many more,” said Mark Bastiaanssen, CEO of Shiptimize to the E-Commerce Times. Eventually, the system surrounding e-commerce is likely to become more environmentally-friendly from hyperlocal warehouses to drone deliveries, eco-friendly urban delivery services and many more.
As brands are getting closer to understanding the real need for adopting green & sustainable industry practices. Marketing pundits have observed that people have outweighed the price benefit over Green benefits while buying. For example, products made locally in North America tend to be more expensive than those made overseas using cheap labour, but they have a much smaller carbon footprint because they don’t have to fly across the globe to get here.
In plain English, green marketing refers to selling products or services by highlighting its environmental benefits. Some call it eco-marketing or environmental marketing, and consumers recognize such brands by terms like “organic,” “eco-friendly,” “recyclable,” or “sustainable”.
Let me tell show you a few of my favourite examples of Green/Eco Marketing tactics companies have used to run a successful campaign:
Starbuck’s Green Store Initiative
Starbucks has been certified by LEED since 2005, but it has moved beyond that by planning to eliminate all plastic straws by 2020 and open 10,000 environmentally friendly stores by 2025.
As part of its Green Store initiative, the brand also plans to reduce waste and use 30% less water and 25% less power during production processes.
The brand designs disposable coffee cups is involved in recycling and green building supports farmers and the environmentally sustainable community and has been hard at work on communicating this message to its target audience.
Coca-Cola with its PlantBottle campaign
The campaign aims at empowering female entrepreneurs, encouraging a healthy lifestyle, and helping to conserve water worldwide.
Their strategical partnership with NGOs, Recycle Packaging Companies and Local communities across the world have shouted enough to share their campaign message “World Without Waste”.
From Packaging to Social media they have to make sure that the right message gets delivered to their target audience.
In the first quarter of 2020, plastic bottle labels in Sweden put sustainability first and issued a recycling call-to-action. The familiar brand colours of Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite and Bonaqua are turning all-white, with a powerful and simple message: “Recycle me again. I am made of 100% recycled plastic. Made in Sweden”
The call to action on Coca-Cola packaging labels is one of many initiatives needed to reach the goal to collect 100% of the company’s packaging by 2025.
Consumers who prefer to purchase green products even though they might be more expensive to fall into the ‘LOHAS’ category. LOHAS stands for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. According to Wikipedia:
“LOHAS describes an integrated, rapidly growing market for goods and services that appeal to consumers whose sense of environmental and social responsibility influences their purchase decisions.”
The LOHAS expresses a new social desire to take responsibility for social and ecological living conditions for the current and for the following generations. Sustainable consumption is core to the LOHAS especially in the areas of nutrition, apparel, and household. They also have the power to influence other consumers.
Last year while doing my masters in strategic marketing I came across the phrase called “Purchase to Participate”. People continue to strive for a feeling of connection by participating and expressing their values through their purchasing behaviour. Participation does not have to be complex — it can be as simple as reminding consumers to bring their own bag to the store (or giving them an incentive to do so).
The point is that action is required both on the part of the brand, and on the part of the consumer, and that the brand is the consumer’s partner in making a difference. These programs can also be designed to have benefits beyond increased customer loyalty and brand equity. And, of course, win-win initiatives lead to long-term successes among consumers, customers, employees, stakeholders, communities — and the environment.
According to a study by the Federal Environment Agency, the LOHAS target group can be identified by the following characteristics:
- LOHAS Women tend to behave more ecologically than men.
- The generation of 21 to 33-year-olds is the least environmentally friendly, whilst the 50 plus generation is just the opposite.
- Higher education is a positive influencing factor with regard to environmental behaviour
- There is no significant correlation between income and environmental behaviour.
- Personal values are clearly classified as the most important influencing factor.
Case Study on Eco-Friendly Bath & Body Brand
Just after the UK hit its first lockdown we took over an amazing project of London based Bath & body brand. The brand has products ranging from Epsom Salts to Body brushes and wooden bath accessories.
After selling on Amazon through a Vendor (1P) relationship, the brand was struggling to grow and retain the customer. The company found it was lacking a strong brand image, necessary to expand across different sales channels.
- Awareness of Brand across digital channels
- Purchase to Participate with Customer Generated Content
- Design brand’s mood board that can smoothly promote our message of Green & Sustainable Lifestyle
- As the brand was very new, the prospects were not aware of many of our products other than Epsom salts
We helped the brand to develop a strong brand image, and to build an ongoing expanding customer and follower base. A roadmap for growth was developed by our team, which included:
- Our first challenge is to make brand heard among green communities and taking a stand of certain environmental and animal problems as our products are Cruelty-Free (Not Tested on Animal) & Vegan Friendly
- WHY — We started our first digital campaign with sharing what the brand believes in. We wrote content that promotes, How to live a sustainable lifestyle? Why you should avoid plastic Nail Brushes?, Why you should switch to Organic Cotton? & 5 Easy way to be more eco-friendly.
- HOW — After people get the sense of Who we are now its time to share the knowledge of our products so we started a segment called “Know the Product” on social media and wrote content such as Sea Sponges; A Sustainable Solution, Learning about Loofahs, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Epsom Salts, Why Bars of Soap are So Much Better than Liquid Soap? & Why Dead Sea Salts are So Good for Your Arthritis & Muscular Pain.
- WHAT — All these helped us build a small fan base on social media and many of them went on buying one or two items. Now it was a time for knowing the brand little more closely which can help initiate the Participate to Purchase Campaign. After 2 months working into building the first base of audience, we shared a blog Follow the journey of our founder. Guys let me tell you something, after sharing that blog we were overwhelmed with so many messages & emails. After that, we saw a jump in people sharing their product experience on stories, post & email, increase in writing reviews after purchase and most important increase in repeat purchase by 5.88%.
Strategic Content Placement on Product Description
- We analysed a few brands on how their content placement on product description helps them increase the conversion rate. Thinking from the customer’s perspective, these are the few questions we were addressing while developing the product description structure:
(1) How we made the product & What benefits it will serve?
– In the first 2 months, we noticed that many customers are very concerned about what ingredients we use in the product and they want to know how this product will help me with my problems? For example, Gym goers are concerned about muscle ache, Few people fighting with psoriasis concerned about skin conditioning & more. This part gives them first-hand experience of our product & why they should have it.
(2) Never used such a product, can you tell me how do i use it?
– 30% of all the question we were getting was on how do we use this product & how much of the product we should use?
– This part also helped us retargeting customer with the same product & upsell products through email. Let say, a customer bought the 1000g Epsom salt & following the recommended use if they try 2 times in a month. Our auto-email flow sends them a reminder every 2 months.
(3) Before making a purchase would like to know how much time it will take to deliver?
– No need to wait till they reach the checkout to know when will they get the product & how much it will cost them to deliver.
(4) How do I get the best use of this product?
– This part of the description helped us increasing avg. order price by 57%.
– Best usecase of using the upsell/cross-sell is by linking product strategically with the primary product along with WHY they should be used together?
(5) Still i don’t get this product, can i get more information on it?
– The More The Better, this part let the customer know that we are more than an e-commerce brand. You read the whole description but yet you are not convinced with the product or still don’t know how to use it or the benefits. No worries! we got you all question covered in the blog.
(6) What other people are telling about your product?
– Social media post should not be limited for the followers but it should be an integrated part of customer’s purchase cycle despite they are following us or not. In another way, a customer coming on our page through google search, FB ad campaign or google ad words likely to follow us despite they make a purchase or not. Which definitely help the brand reach more followers organically.
Eco Bath London experienced significant growth.
- 120% growth in the first 9 months
- From 0 to 200 orders in the first 2 months and 1000 orders in 5 month
- 30% of Orders from Organic Search (Strong Product & Blog SEO)
- 35% of Orders from Google Ads (Smart shopping, Keyword Search & Discovery Ad)
- 10% Orders from Email (Cart-abandoned, Upsell/Cross-sell & Weekly newsletter)
- 20% of Orders from Social Media Channels (Conversion & Engagement Ads)
- 4.7 Trustpilot reviews & 4.9 Product reviews on the store with total of 500 reviews
- Top Sold product keyword ranking on the first page with 1k+ backlinks (22% dofollow)
- A solid brand image, with a high presence on social media
Using marketing fundamentals to connect consumers with a brand’s purpose, showing benefits over and above conventional options, and making sustainability irresistible are central challenges for businesses in the coming decades. As more and more successful, sustainable business will become a smart business.