A whole 40 years on from the first Earth Day, a look at some of the brands promising to help save the world
This year’s Earth Day theme is “Restore the Planet’ and it has never been more apparent to us collectively that we ought to be working to do this. So as President Biden hosts a three day conference to discuss climate change and its threat to our planet, it is time to look back at how different the world seemed this time last year, when the traffic stopped, the cities emptied and some of us were privileged to reconnect with wildlife and nature in a quieter world. It proved that the planet can heal itself – if we only give it a chance.
So now we are asked to focus on restoring the planet, what does this mean and how can we help?
One company in the loyalty world actively doing its bit for this restoration is Virgin Red which will match members’ donations to Carbon Engineering – to support the build of technology capable of removing carbon from the atmosphere.
Virgin Red, Virgin’s new rewards club, makes it easy for members to support the environment, small businesses and charities within its Points for Good category.
Members can donate a minimum of 5,000 Virgin Points to support the development of Carbon Engineering’s innovative carbon removal technology – on Earth Day, Virgin Red will match members’ donations meaning points to Carbon Engineering will be doubled.
There are plenty of other brands eager to position themselves as a champion of sustainability.
Forty years after the first Earth Day, greater pressure is being applied to brands to address environmental problems along with the problems of dirty clothes, financial services, technology, and convenient, quick-serve meals.
The phrases being bandied around like confetti include “fuel-efficient,” “organic,””energy-efficient,” “natural,” “green,” and “sustainable” and consumers are keen to support the initiatives, but they want the brands to walk-the-talk. It means that “green” has become the entry level requirement for customer engagement. If you are not green enough, they won’t be interested.
It means that brands need to make larger and larger contributions to brand engagement and loyalty in order to drive green growth.
A review of category loyalty drivers in this year’s Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index shows that how consumers define “green” varies significantly from category-to-category. And as more people become more aware of the dangers of ignoring the environment, and as brands have actually sought to establish standards, the definitions and expectations applied to brands have evolved.
Any/all these questions can be applied to virtually any category: What is it made from? How is it made? How is it packaged? How I it consumed? How do I dispose of it? Those are the questions consumers are asking brands to answer.
As such the value of such environmental initiatives, extend beyond the aspects of social responsibility, and even further beyond simple advertising tag lines, and present a competitive opportunity for both top and bottom line growth, brand differentiation and – given consumer expectations – increased profitability.
As noted, the categories vary in their “green” aspects and expectations, but here (alphabetically) are the Top-50 Green Brands from this year’s Brand Keys Loyalty Engagement Index:
Brand Keys said: “While we recognize that there are many corporations looking to find ways to do business in a sustainable way, of the 550 brands included in this year’s Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, here are the top-50 brands deemed authentically and resolutely “green” by their own customers. They are presented alphabetically since environmental demands and consumer expectations are category-specific.”
As noted, the categories vary in their “green” aspects and expectations, but here (alphabetically) are the Top-25 Green Brands from this year’s Brand Keys Loyalty Engagement Index:
- American Express
11. Johnson & Johnson
20. Seventh Generation
23. Tom’s of Maine
25. Wells Fargo
Virgin Red is a high profile example of the value of using a customer loyalty programme to help the environment.
In the future, the intention is to enable Virgin Red members to donate points to facilitate the permanent removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Virgin Red members have donated more than 400,000 Virgin Points to Carbon Engineering and eight charities as well as purchased more than 180 Virgin StartUp products.
In what it claims is a world-first for a loyalty programme, Virgin Red has partnered with Carbon Engineering to enable its members to directly support the development of an emerging climate change solution – Direct Air Capture (DAC). DAC is an innovative technology that captures carbon dioxide (CO2) directly out of the air. When combined with permanent geological storage of the CO2, it can deliver carbon removal on a huge scale.
From just 5,000 Virgin Points, members can directly support the advancement of this critical technology and to raise awareness for Earth Day, Virgin Red will match any donation made by its members on the day (Thursday 22 April), so that Carbon Engineering will receive double donations. So for every 5,000 Virgin Points donated, Carbon Engineering will receive 10,000. In the future, the intention is to enable members to spend Virgin Points to facilitate the removal of carbon from the atmosphere.
Since launching the partnership in November 2020, more than 400,000 Virgin Points have been donated to Carbon Engineering and Virgin Red’s eight charity partners as its members choose to use their points for good.
Virgin Red recognises the importance of advancing new climate solutions to fight climate change and wants to make this accessible to its members. Climate science shows that levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the air are already too high, sitting at approximately 415 parts per million. To address the climate crisis and restore a healthy balance of CO2in the atmosphere, CO2concentrations must be reduced to below 350 parts per million – the level deemed safe by many leading climate scientists. Only the combination of stopping new GHG emissions and removing existing CO2emissions from the atmosphere can achieve that goal.
Kelly Best, Virgin Red’s Chief Marketing Officer, says: “The climate emergency is real which is why we’ve partnered with Carbon Engineering to bring carbon removal to our members. Carbon removal solutions are starting to prove themselves but can still be costly to tap into – unless you’re a member of Virgin Red of course – where it’s possible to make a difference from just 5,000 Virgin Points.