Month: October 2018

The Importance of Building a Mission-Driven Brand: Takeaways from [BLUE BOX] 2018

Conference image

Last week, a select group of up-and-coming and industry-leading beverage brands convened in Santa Monica, CA for the invitation-only [BLUE BOX] 2018 Conference; a full day of collaboration, storytelling, knowledge-sharing and inspiration. According to the organizers, “[BLUE BOX] was born out of a desire to produce a highly differentiated beverage industry conference…one that digs deep to discover the many factors at play in the innovation of new brands and the disruption of beverage segments.” Based on previous work 3Degrees has done in the beverage industry, I was pleased to receive an invitation to attend the conference to gain deeper insight into this fast-growing industry; 3Degrees also offset the full carbon footprint of the event.

There were several key themes from the conference, most of which revolved around identifying and exploring emerging trends in Beverage. Bill Anderson, Founder and CEO of First Beverage Group, the organizer of [BLUE BOX], acknowledged that traditionally the beverage industry has been slow-moving, conservative and entrenched. Old-guard beverage suppliers have not been keeping pace with emerging consumer trends and have done very little to shake up the industry. New market entrants and ‘disruptors’ in the beverage space, however, understand the importance of paying close attention to consumer cues. Following are some of my key takeaways.

CONSUMERS ARE BECOMING PART OF THE STORY

Ian Beacraft, vp, group director: digital strategy at the data-driven marketing agency, Epsilon, noted that by the year 2020, Gen Z will comprise 40% of total consumers. These young consumers are familiar and comfortable interacting with brands. In fact, 40% expect to communicate with brands 24/7, with social media being the primary, and in many cases, the only way to connect. With this kind of unfettered access to brands, consumers are now engaging at such a level that they are themselves becoming part of the brand story and are influencing the narrative.

BUILDING AN AUTHENTIC BRAND NARRATIVE

Given these insights, it’s no wonder that so many conversations at [BLUE BOX] revolved around brand storytelling. Younger, savvier consumers can recognize when brands are not being authentic, and they vote with their wallets. Now more than ever, brands are aligning themselves with a mission, story or emotion that is relatable, approachable and speaks to the values of their consumers. This is especially true for new market players.

According to the 2017 Edelman Earned Brand study,  “57% of consumers around the world will buy or boycott a brand solely because of its position on a social or political issue.” All this is to say, to succeed in a very saturated consumer packaged goods market, companies need to find meaningful ways to stand out and be relevant to an ever-growing and engaged market segment. Studies show that integrating an authentic mission into the very DNA of a brand can be an effective way to achieve this. Which brings me to my final takeaway, one that has been a foundation of my career and has developed into my life’s mission – advocating for sustainability in the fight against climate change.

SUSTAINABILITY’S ROLE IN STORYTELLING

Since co-founding 3Degrees over a decade ago, I have seen the motivations for addressing climate goals of the average corporate multinational shift towards proactive, voluntary action. Increasingly, companies understand that taking action to address their greenhouse gas emissions can positively affect every aspect of their business – from cost to resiliency to innovation.  And, consistent with both the research statistics above and the conversation among the [BLUE BOX] participants, consumer pressure is frequently a driving force for companies to decide to take action on climate change. In fact, 53% of CDP reporting companies listed climate-related reputation as an inherent risk to their business. By committing to sustainability goals and effectively communicating their action to address climate change, brands are able to build a reputation for social responsibility, which brings us back to that authentic brand narrative, one increasingly desired by today’s – and tomorrow’s – customers.

Participating in [BLUE BOX] 2018 left me inspired by the energy of these new and well-established beverage brands alike. It is reassuring to know that doing the right thing for the environment is not at the detriment of building a successful business. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Companies today have to be about more than making money if they want any chance at building the defining brands of tomorrow.

Learn more about how two food and beverage companies addressed their sustainability goals:
VOSS Case Study
Multinational Food & Beverage Case Study

How One Multinational Food & Beverage Company is Reducing Global Emissions – at No Additional Cost

food-beverage-case-study

Company-goals
In 2017, a multinational, Fortune 100 food and beverage company engaged 3Degrees for assistance meeting an ambitious goal: reducing its absolute greenhouse gas emissions vs. a historic base year in each of its four global operating regions. This client thinks of emissions reductions in a virtuous cycle, progressing through usage reduction, onsite consumption from low and zero carbon sources, cost effective solutions that don’t require a change in the supply chain and, finally, off-site renewable solutions to help close any remaining gap. The client had been making steady progress through energy efficiency and other onsite solutions, but needed additional reductions to achieve their goals. 3Degrees was hired for a three-year engagement to establish a strategy to achieve the client’s goals across all regions and to support the regional teams’ resulting implementation.

Challenges

We knew the client’s needs were complex, but we were up to the task and readily accepted the challenge.  Their ambitious requirements included: the reductions needed to be in place for calendar year 2020 reporting; each region must meet the goal independently; each implementation solution must have a cost-neutral or cost-saving economic profile; and no unbundled instruments such as RECs or GOs could be used.

How we helped

3Degrees began the engagement by identifying emissions hotspots across the client’s global operations, then assessed specific countries where they could get the “best bang for their carbon buck”. For example, we looked for opportunities where one solution could address multiple issues, thus optimizing the client’s resources.  We honed in on four areas that looked to be the most promising in meeting our client’s goals:

  • Onsite solar
  • Green retail (in deregulated markets)
  • Combined heat and power solutions (CHP)
  • Off-site renewable solutions

For each one of these prospective solutions, 3Degrees conducted a comprehensive analysis that was specific to each region and its target reduction goals. The analysis also included an assessment of specific facilities in the region whose emissions profiles were sufficiently large to allow for a meaningful contribution to the goal should a reduction solution be pursued.  We then mapped solutions to each facility, taking into account regional policy environments, resource availability, vendor landscape, project economics and other factors.

“This was an ambitious assignment because the client’s needs were complex and global in nature. But we were up to the challenge and feel very positive about the global strategy road map we were able to deliver and the significant emissions reductions that will come as a result.”

– ERIN CRAIG, VP ENERGY AND CLIMATE PRACTICE, 3DEGREES

Results

3Degrees delivered a global strategy roadmap that will enable the client to meet their emissions reduction goals in all four regions by their 2020 target, with solutions that are cost neutral or better.  In some regions, multiple implementation options are available and the client’s regional teams are engaged in final alignment discussions; in other regions, implementation work has already begun. 3Degrees is supporting these implementations, as well as needed changes in the client’s greenhouse gas accounting practices to correctly quantify the resulting reductions.

More on Energy and Climate Consulting with 3Degrees.

Reflections and Inspiration from Climate Week NYC

Last week, I attended Climate Week NYC in the company of hundreds of climate concerned leaders from around the world.  I was happy to be part of it; if my only way to gauge progress on climate action was by tracking political news, by following social media trends or by reading the latest scientific research, I suspect I’d spend my days in a haze of semi-depression.

But I don’t!  After years of supporting customers as they frame and drive their sustainability agendas, I have a very different perspective. I’m not downcast at all actually: I feel more inspired and motivated and hopeful than ever before.  At Climate Week NYC, I had the pleasure of participating on a panel addressing “Solutions for a 100% Clean Energy Transition”, alongside fellow sustainability thought leaders Dan Bryant, SVP, Global Public Policy and Government Affairs at Walmart, and Chelsea Mozen, Sustainability Lead at Etsy, and moderated by Samantha Smith, Director of Just Transition Centre.  These effective and purposeful people inspired me right there on the spot, and I shared several additional reasons for my optimism.

IT’S NOT A MATTER OF “IF”, IT’S A MATTER OF “HOW FAST”

Organizations all over the world are stepping up in the quest to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Just before our panel took the stage, Mike Peirce, Corporate Partnerships Director for The Climate Group, shared that it took 40 years to achieve one terawatt of renewable energy… but we expect it to take only five years to get to the next terawatt. The pace of renewable energy development – just one indicator – is remarkable and accelerating.  That momentum, and the commitment and desire to succeed which drives it, was palpable last week in New York.

THERE’S A PATH FOR EVERYONE

As we tell our clients, there is a path to renewable energy adoption for every company but those paths will not all look the same. If an organization is ready to implement a renewable energy strategy, then I am 100% certain they can achieve ambitious emission reductions. There will be at least one solution available somewhere along the continuum; from onsite renewable energy to aggregated PPAs or VPPAs, from utility green tariffs to competitive retail energy….there is truly something for everyone.

Exhibit A: my two fellow Climate Week NYC panelists, Walmart and Etsy, both members of the RE100 initiative led by The Climate Group as the world’s largest retailer, Walmart has set an aggressive renewable electricity goal within their corporate context of delivering consistently low prices to their customers. To date, 26% of Walmart’s global operations are powered by renewable electricity, with a target of 50% by 2025.1  On the other end of the spectrum, e-commerce website Etsy is proudly embracing its role as the smallest player in the largest renewable energy aggregation to date, together with Apple, Akamai and Swiss Re. Two completely different organizations, with vastly different budgets and corporate goals – but both making a meaningful impact with their approach to renewable energy solutions.

Our conference room was filled with attendees representing highly diverse organizations. And, as I shared during the panel, the most critical question to start with is “What is your why?”  What are the driving forces behind sustainability at your company? Cost savings? Brand value? Corporate ethos?  Investors or advocates? Because once you understand your “why”, you can build an implementation strategy that amplifies your responsiveness to your particular driving forces.

THE BUSINESS CASE IS THERE

Several themes surfaced repeatedly at the conference, but perhaps one of the most prominent was the business case for renewable energy. Put simply: more organizations across the globe are embracing renewable energy solutions because they make good business sense. 

It makes financial sense, as renewable energy continues its march toward cost parity with fossil fuels all over the world.  It makes sense for job creation; the renewable energy sector now employs over 10 million people worldwide.2 And it makes sense for the harder-to-measure, yet highly valuable, metric of stakeholder engagement. During our session, both of my fellow panelists cited examples of how their companies’ sustainability strategies directly impacted this metric in the form of new employee recruitment and morale (Walmart) and internal employee engagement and enthusiasm (Etsy).

So, despite the fact that it was a dark and stormy day in New York during our Climate Week NYC panel, all of these reasons are why I felt bright and optimistic about the direction we are headed in our quest to achieve a 100% clean energy transition.  I truly believe that it’s not a matter of if we’ll get there, it’s a matter of when and how fast.  

1 RE100 Progress and Insights Report 2018
2 IRENA Renewable Energy and Jobs 2018 Annual Review

How One Global Beverage Company Took Pure Water to the Next Level

Voss case study Norway pure water

company goals

VOSS LogoIn 2007, leading beverage brand VOSS set out on a mission to take a hard look at the holistic environmental impact of its exceptionally pure bottled water products.  Although VOSS offered some of the cleanest water products in the world, the company realized the process of sourcing, bottling and bringing its products to market in over 50 countries had a significant carbon footprint as the price for its success.  Inconsistent with their environmental values and detrimental to the very resources from which VOSS water flows, VOSS decided it was time to make a change.

VOSS approached 3Degrees to help it comprehensively address its carbon emissions, which were only going to grow significantly as the company achieved greater success.

Challenges

VOSS was looking for a thorough, meaningful solution to address its cradle-to-grave product life cycle carbon footprint from the moment it sources its water to the moment the bottle is recycled. VOSS entrusted 3Degrees to dive deep and come up with a methodology and approach that would be impactful, holistic and scale with the company’s global ambitions.

How we helped

There were three phases to 3Degrees’ engagement with VOSS.

3Degrees' Role

Phase One – Carbon Footprint Advising and Calculation

We kicked off our work with VOSS with a comprehensive carbon footprint analysis and recommendations on ways to reduce their overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  3Degrees calculated and accounted for greenhouse gas emissions from all stages of VOSS’s product life cycle, as well as all employee travel and business activities.  This “end to end” product life cycle assessment calculates the impact of the raw material extraction and processing, transport of raw materials, bottling processes, transportation of finished products and, finally, end-of-life management including refilling, recycling or disposal of the bottles and packaging. 3Degrees’ greenhouse gas emissions reduction recommendations spanned product life cycle stages.

Phase Two – High Caliber Carbon Offsets Purchase

To offset unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions, 3Degrees worked with VOSS to identify and select high quality carbon offset projects in the U.S., China and later Australia. The projects were evaluated and selected on the basis of VOSS’s criteria for desired project technologies, geographic locations, volumes, co-benefits, marketability and price point. VOSS then committed to an annual purchase of offsets from the selected projects to neutralize the company’s unavoidable carbon footprint.

Phase Three – Communicating to Stakeholders

Once 3Degrees and VOSS agreed on the strategy for the carbon offsets and implemented the purchase, VOSS wanted to communicate its plan to stakeholders in a compelling manner.  VOSS was proud of its environmental commitment and wanted to share that story, but was keenly aware of the need to message it accurately, humbly, and with integrity.  3Degrees’ marketing and design teams developed strategic and tactical communications recommendations, including an environmental mission statement, messaging for packaging, and press release and website copy.

3Degrees built a tremendous amount of trust with the VOSS team and our initial one-time engagement with the company turned into a relationship that’s lasted more than a decade. 

Results

Through the partnership with 3Degrees, VOSS was able to:

  • Calculate its cradle-to-grave lifecycle carbon footprint
  • Implement company-wide carbon reduction efforts
  • Mitigate the impact of its unavoidable product life cycle greenhouse gas emissions through the purchase of high-caliber verified carbon offsets
  • Powerfully communicate its environmental commitment to internal and external stakeholders

More on Energy and Climate Consulting with 3Degrees.