As the social mindset is shifting towards more conscious consumerism, more and more shoppers are looking to support brands that take a proactive approach toward sustainability. While some brands have taken the opportunity to jump on this trend and adopt more sustainable practices, others aren’t sure how or where to apply these changes.
One of the best ways to understand how to build a sustainable brand is to look at other companies’ success in this field. One company that has built its entire business with sustainability at the heart of everything it does is B Corp footwear and apparel brand, Allbirds.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into how Allbirds has integrated sustainability into its business model, and also look at how you, too, can apply sustainability practices within your brand.
Why Brands Are Turning Towards Sustainability
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact their purchasing decisions have on the environment and are looking for products that align with their values. According to a study, 79% of consumers are changing their purchase preferences based on factors related to the environment, inclusiveness, and social responsibility. Additionally, another study showed how products that were marketed as sustainable grew 2.7 times faster than conventional products since 2015, demonstrating the increase in demand for sustainable products.
While awareness surrounding sustainability is growing amongst all consumer demographics, it’s being spearheaded by younger generations, namely Millenials and Gen-Z. While shoppers used to be influenced by brand names, 77% of Gen-Zers and 71% of Millennials said buying sustainably was more of a motivator for them than buying brand names.
This move of the younger generations towards becoming more conscious about the environment and wanting to invest in products that align with their values is having an effect on society at large, forcing the entire consumer mindset to shift towards aligning with sustainable brands and products. As a result, brands that can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility are more likely to attract these consumers, outshine competitors, and grow their customer base.
How Allbirds Leads the Way In Sustainability
With sustainability being part of Allbirds’s DNA, they take many different approaches. Allbirds has three focus areas as part of its Flight Plan, a robust sustainability framework in which it has committed to reducing its per-unit product footprint by 50% by 2025, and near zero by 2030. These pillars are: Renewable Materials, Responsible Energy, and Regenerative Agriculture. As of 2019, Allbirds has been certified carbon neutral and is a B Corp.
Natural material innovation is a core element of Allbirds, most recently releasing the Plant Pacer – a new sneaker crafted from Plant Leather. Developed in partnership with NFW, Plant Leather is the world’s first 100% plastic-free, 100% vegan leather alternative.
However, building a sustainable brand isn’t as simple as swapping out the materials you use for a product. In order to commit to the values of the brand and its customers, Allbirds had to set specific strategies to achieve its goals. For brands looking to do the same, there are a few things to be learned from the Allbirds sustainability strategy.
Dedication to carbon accountability
Claiming to be a sustainable brand is one thing, but being able to walk the talk is more important. Allbirds provides their customers with a transparent view of their initiatives and clearly identifies the carbon impact of each of their products. In 2020, Allbirds became the first fashion and footwear brand to label all of its products with their respective carbon footprint. This move empowers customers with the information they need to make purchasing decisions and keeps the brand accountable as it works towards its carbon reduction commitments.
Deep focus and dedication to its goals
Allbirds bases itself on three key pillars: as a brand, it aims to use and promote regenerative agriculture, renewable materials, and responsible energy. These three pillars drive Allbirds’s goals and enables the company to remain hyperfocused on attaining them.
As the company’s mission is to “reverse climate change through better business,” Allbirds has dedicated itself to reducing carbon emissions as much as possible to reach its goal of zero emissions.
Sets measurable milestones
Based on the company’s three pillars, Allbirds has set itself some milestones it hopes to achieve by 2025:
- 100% of its wool will be sourced from regenerative sources
- 75% of its natural and recycled materials will be sustainably sourced
- 100% reliance on renewable energy for owned & operated facilities and manufacturers
By setting clear sustainability milestones, Allbirds can ensure its campaigns and business strategies are consistently in line with its goals.
Bigger picture thinking
While remaining competitive is important for any brand, it’s also important to look at the bigger picture when you prioritize sustainability. Allbirds has made its carbon footprint methodology open-sourced for other brands in the fashion industry to follow in its footsteps. In fact, even Allbirds CEO Joey Zwillinger has encouraged other brands to copy its sustainability model to inspire collaboration over competition. The brand has also partnered with adidas to create the Adizero x Allbirds 2.94kg CO2e performance running shoes. Traditionally seen as competitors, the two brands came together and created the lowest carbon footprint running shoes either brand had ever made. For context, the average pair of running shoes has a carbon footprint of around 12.5-13.5kg CO2e.
The Key to Building a Sustainable Brand: Commitment
What other fashion brands can learn from Allbirds is that it takes a lot of time, dedication, and commitment to become a truly sustainable brand. A lot of work goes into making sure your current plan of action is in line with your goals and that you have the right resources to help you achieve them.
At Cymbio, we believe that sustainable fashion is the future. However, we know it can be difficult for brands to commit to fostering more sustainable practices when they already have so much on their plate. That’s why our platform helps you automate the more mundane tasks so that you can focus your time and resources on building sustainable practices that will help you grow your brand.
Cymbio helps you automate retailer and marketplace operations, from inventory syncing to payouts, order management, and more, so that you don’t need to assign resources to manually handle these tasks. As you adopt more sustainable practices, it stands to reason that your business will grow as conscious consumers take notice and put more trust in your brand. However, if you’re not ready to scale onto new retail platforms, then you can be missing the opportunity to reach those new customers where they shop. Cymbio helps you connect all those dots without wasting any of your limited resources or extending your budget.
Schedule a call with one of our retail experts today to see how Cymbio can help you scale up, connect with new retailers, and free up more of your time so that you can focus on creating the best sustainable business for your clients.