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With Earth Day upon us, it’s a time for everyone to consider how their actions have an impact on our planet.
It's clear the consumer goods industry is taking this to heart. Against the backdrop of sustainability goals to mitigate climate change and rising demand from shoppers for eco-conscious strategies, a series of new initiatives unveiled over the last month show that brands and retailers are making process changes and adding new materials as they produce and deliver products.
Below is a look at the Earth Day launches that stood out this spring. For those wondering where to start, take note that, often, these new initiatives happen through partnerships.
LVMH’s sustainable PET partnership
Inside a Dior store. (Photo via Flickr user Alessandra Grochko, used under a Creative Commons license)
A new partnership between one of luxury’s biggest names and a materials company is aiming to produce sustainable packaging for perfumes and cosmetics.
LVMH Beauty, a division of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, announced a multi-year agreement on April 19 to purchase sustainable PET from Sacramento, California-based Origin Materials. PET is a plastic, and is typically made from petroleum. The PET from Origin Materials is made from sustainable wood residues, which capture carbon. It is also recyclable.
LVMH plans to use the PET to develop packaging materials for brands including Givenchy, Christian Dior and Guerlain, among others. It’s one way LVMH is working to meet a commitment to make packaging that contains no plastic derived from virgin fossil resources.
“Origin’s bioplastic technologies are playing a crucial role in helping LVMH achieve our sustainability targets without any compromise on quality. LVMH Beauty is happy to collaborate with Origin, supporting innovative technologies,” said Claude Martinez, Executive President & Managing Director, in a statement.
L.O.L. Surprise shows Earth Love
Earth Love from L.O.L. Surprise (via Earth Love)
Recognizable packaging was key to toy company MGA Entertainment as it grew L.O.L. Surprise dolls. Unboxing a doll from a spherical container proved to be a delightful part of the experience.
Now, the company is placing the packaging at the center of its sustainability efforts.
This month, it announced that it will begin to use bamboo, wood, sugar cane and other natural materials in the spheres, instead of plastic. The goal is to transition 65% of the plastic balls to new packaging by fall 2022. That means 45 million dolls will be produced using the sustainable materials this year.
Inside the first sustainable spheres will be two new characters that are debuting to mark the occasion. The Earth Love collection, available at Walmart, will feature LEarthy B.B. and Grow Grrrl, both of whom come complete with gardening accessories.
The company is also continuing a partnership with TerraCycle for recycling.
"MGA is committed to sustainability and eco-friendly initiatives, and we are proud to take this monumental step with our new L.O.L. Surprise! Earth Love toys, with many more to come," said MGA Entertainment Founder and CEO Isaac Larian, in a statement.
Low-carbon running shoes from Adidas and Allbirds
(Image via Adidas)
One big question about sustainable materials is whether they can scale as a component of mass-produced goods.
The Adizero x Allbirds 2.94 kg CO2e has sustainability cred, as the only running shoe to go below 3.0 kg CO2e. The measure CO2e describes the greenhouse gas-equivalent of material in a unit of product. To achieve this measure, the shoes are made using sugarcane content, recycled rubber, recycled polyester and natural lyocell. Plus, the brands employed a design method that reduces scrap on certain parts of the shoe.
This month, the companies made more of the shoes available in four color schemes (produced using no dye).
To get to scale, the brands made the decision to work together.
“Climate change presents a formidable challenge, but the success of this project is an example of how two teams can work together to create a shoe fit for performance and the planet,” said Hana Kajimura, head of sustainability at Allbirds, in a statement. “Our overarching ambition with this shoe is to inspire others to open up their development processes and cooperate with others to create the most carbon efficient designs possible.”
Casio’s environmentally-friendly watch
A Casio watch is a long-term favorite for shoppers who want to keep thing simple, or do some quick calculations. With a new timepiece, the brand is factoring in sustainable materials.
The PRW-61is the latest release in the PRO TREK series, and it's made from biomass plastics. It’s the first item from Casio to use these materials, TWICE reported.
The watch has features for solar charging, radio reception and sensors including a thermometer and compass. So it’s fitting that it is close to the Earth in form, as well as function.
Mattel’s carbon-netural toys
Matchbox is going green (Image courtesy of Mattel)
You can now own a matchbox Tesla roadster.
That’s cool enough. Now add in that it’s made from 99% recycled materials, and is carbon neutral.
The miniature Tesla is among a number of items Mattel is rolling out as part of an environmentally-friendly line this year.
Elsewhere in its catalogue, a new line of Mega Bloks is the first-ever to be certified carbon neutral, the brand says.
The toys in the Green Town line are made from plant-based materials and bio-circular plastics. MEGA achieved the certification in part by purchasing carbon offsets from the Darkwood Forests Conservation project in Canada. Packaging for the toys is also 100% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper or paperboard.
“These new products from MEGA and Matchbox demonstrate our commitment to our 2030 goal to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials in all our products and packaging and to create a more sustainable future for the next generation,” said Pamela Gill-Alabaster, Head of Global Sustainability at Mattel, in a statement.
Nivea Men Climate Care Moisturizer
Nivea Men Climate Care Moisturizer (Image via Beiersdorf)
Beiersdorf set out to pioneer carbon dioxide recycling in the making of its skincare products. Now, its first product using the environmentally-minded approach is launching.
To produce the forthcoming Climate Care Moisturizer from Nivea Men, the company used carbon capture and utilization technology to produce ethanol, which is present in many cosmetics. Through this process, carbon dioxide is collected at locations like industrial chimneys, then diverted to a bioreactor, where it is then fermented and processed.
The brand used this approach to create a moisturizer that is 14% ethanol. The company adds that the formula is 100% free of microplastics, silicones, mineral oils, and PEG or PEG derivatives, and manufactured using electricity from 100% renewable sources.
The initial launch of the product is set for June in Germany, with a limited quantity available through ecommerce and drugstores.
Shiseido’s sustainable ecommerce packaging
(Image via Shiseido)
Sustainability efforts that focus on ecommerce packaging can have a big impact, given their scale.
Here’s one example of such a move this month: Ecommerce shoppers who buy from the Japan-headquartered beauty brand Shiseido can now choose from eco-friendly packaging options.
According to Global Cosmetics News, the offerings include a clear, “green” plastic bag made from Polyvinyl Alcohol, and honeycomb wrap and stuffing paper to replace bubble wrap.
Boots kicks plastic wet wipes
Boots wet wipes (Courtesy photo)
Sustainability doesn’t always mean releasing something new. Retailers can also make a statement with what they decide not to sell.
This month, the UK drugstore retailer Boots said it would stop selling plastic wet wipes by the end of the year, and replace them with plant-based alternatives.
This is a decision that covers a big portion of the market. The company said it sold over 800 million wet wipes online and in stores last year, representing 15% of wet wipe sales in the UK.
Kroger and Loop’s circular packaging partnership
A Kroger Marketplace (www.flickr.com)
The frequency of grocery shopping makes it a prime area to reduce single-use packaging. That’s why reusable bags have become a familiar part of the in-store experience.
Kroger is taking things a step further by introducing reusable packaging for its products. Through a partnership with Loop, the grocer introduced reusable packaging in products at Fred Meyer stores in Oregon earlier this year. Now, it's expanding the initiative.
There are a few different parts of the program: Loop recovers and sanitizes packaging for recirculation, while it looks to manufacturers who introduce products that reuse sustainable packaging.
Working through both its private label brands and recognizable CPG names, the program is one example of how grocery stores can play an influential role in promoting sustainability.
If the SKU fits...
Dick's Sporting Goods. (www.flickr.com)
When it comes to ecommerce orders, one way to reduce waste is by providing a better fit of product to package.
Packsize has created customized corrugated packaging that is fitted to the 2,000+ SKUs shipped by Dick’s.
The companies said in March that it resulted in a 26% reduction in corrugated materials used by Dick's.
"We recognize that our athletes want their products in a timely fashion – and they want us to create less waste with more efficient packaging,” George Giacobbe, senior vice president for supply chain at DICK'S Sporting Goods, said in a statement.
Trending in Operations
Retail media networks must drive sales incrementality, a new report from the Association of National Advertisers states.
Retail media networks are creating a new layer to the relationship between brands and retailers, and a new report indicates that brands in particular are still navigating the growing pains.
The last two years brought fast growth of retail media networks, as retailers recognized the value of providing advertising opportunities through ecommerce marketplaces that grew rapidly during the pandemic, and the value of the first-party data they possessed in a world where third-party cookies and IDFA are becoming less valuable tools. For a historically low-margin business like retail, digital advertising also presents an opportunity for a high-margin business line of 50-70%.
Brands have proven to be eager adopters as they sought new ways to reach customers in this environment, as well. According to eMarketer, ad revenue from retail media networks will reach $52 billion in 2023 and $61 billion in 2024. Over the next two years, retail media will account for one in five digital ad dollars spent by marketers. The spend is only expected to grow. According to a survey from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), 73% of brands said they expect to be spending somewhat or significantly more on retail media in the future than they do today.
However, this proliferation has also created “more marketing decisionmaking complexity for advertisers,” ANA CEO Bob Liodice said in a new report.
The need to navigate multiple networks and still-developing tools to maximize the opportunity presented by retail media is leading to a multitude of approaches. Layer on top of that the fact that brands are both selling goods and advertising through retailers, and it’s clear the landscape is being reshaped.
A recent report from the Association of National Advertisers uncovered the areas where fault lines may emerge under the surface:
- Reluctant buyers: 88% believe they are somewhat or heavily influenced by retailers to buy advertising on retail media networks.
- A multitude of players: 56% said they are currently working with five or more different retail media networks.
- Differing goals: Two-thirds of respondents see driving conversion as the most important investment. Only 12% indicated the most important objective was “to invest for future brand growth,” and 7% cited “to drive awareness.”
The results underscore key areas where relationships between brands and retailers can be strengthened.
Sales vs. growth. Retail media must be able to drive both conversions of a single sale in the lower funnel, and brand equity growth in the mid- to upper-funnel.
As one respondent put it, "The jury is still out on if the RMNs are truly driving sales incrementality."
This also has implications for how a brand is budgeting retail media. Some brands are shifting dollars from shopper marketing, brand marketing, and trade spending, which could put the emphasis on short-term sales. But as another respondent put it, "There is concern that while attribution shows RMNs are driving brand sales, they are not necessarily driving brand growth. This is especially concerning where incremental RMN spending is being sourced from brand building budgets."
Standard measurement. Brands want to see an improvement in transparency in measurement. They also want results to be measured in the same ways across platforms. Further, brands believe retail media networks are not fully optimized for their KPIs.
This all leaves room for retailers to show they truly understand what brands are seeking from retail media, and show how they are delivering, all while reducing complexity.
As the report put it, “The next phase of growth for RMNs and value creation for brands will be through RMNs assuming shared responsibility with advertisers for driving brand growth, and demonstrating the ability of their platforms to drive incrementality and positive ROAS for brands. In other words, the next stage of growth will be driven by results versus relationships.”