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Brief Published: 20 Nov 2015

Mainstream Brands Do Sustainability

Concept shoe designed by Adidas and Parley for the Oceans

This year's Sustainable Brands conference in London (November 16-18) played host to a range of global brands, proving that sustainability is no longer a niche issue – it's integral to a brand's success. In 2014, brands that were committed to sustainability grew sales by 3% more than companies without this focus, according to Claudia Suarez, partner at global market research firm Nielsen.

Here are the three key brand strategies highlighted during the conference:

  • Responsibility for Raw Materials: Global food and beverage firm Mondelēz runs a programme called Harmony to ensure ingredients used in its biscuit products are produced in a sustainable way. The programme prioritises partnering with farms closest to factories, applies responsible agricultural practices and promises 100% traceability of every grain of wheat.

    "Build win-win partnerships with all stakeholders, as a mutual benefit is a sustainable benefit," says Albert Mathieu, president of the biscuit category at Mondelēz Europe.
  • Measurement Encourages Ambition: Unilever's strict policy ensures that brands must prove they are working on both purpose-led causes and improving the sustainability of their products to qualify under the British-Dutch FMCG corporation's sustainable living guidelines.

    Emphasising the benefits of this move, Karen Hamilton, global vice-president of sustainable business, noted that half of the business' growth is within its sustainable living brands – which include Dove, Hellmann's and Ben & Jerry's – with these products being up to twice as profitable.
  • Open-Source Sustainability: German sportswear giant Adidas see collaboration as crucial in developing a sustainable future. Alexis Haass, director of sustainability, highlighted a shoe the company created in partnership with environmental initiative Parley for the Oceans as a key example. The shoes feature salvaged ocean plastic and recycled netting, turning unwanted materials into new products, and showing how global brands can provide platforms to promote issues to a new audience.

    "If you can invent the solution, we can help you scale it up to change the world together," says Haass.

For further insight into sustainability strategies and future-proofing your business, see Marketing Sustainability, Closing the Loop: Future-Proofing Design and Sustainable Futures: The Consumer of 2030.

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