Katie McKeever
Katie McKeever
Posted 13 April 2022

How Sustainability Drives Brand Loyalty in 2022

Topics: Sustainability

Guest post by Katie McKeever, Director of Product Marketing, Loyalty, Yotpo

Emotional connections and shared values, especially regarding shoppers’ brand loyalty, go hand in hand. As consumers face growing concern around climate change, social justice issues, and more, they realize their money counts.

According to a 2022 consumer survey by Yotpo, over 84% of global respondents said they are more inclined to buy from a brand whose values align with their own. The world is prioritizing brand values, even more so among future consumers. Over 90% of global Gen Z respondents based their brand loyalty on shared values.

What do these common values include? When asked what business practices or company values would discourage loyalty, the most common answers included: supply chain partnerships with factories that mistreat employees (48% of global respondents) and an affiliation with a big polluter (22% of global respondents). Sustainability now encompasses the entire production process, including the supply chain, the lifecycle of an item, the packaging, and more.

Why shared values drive longer lasting loyalty

Shared values build a connection that goes beyond a positive association with a brand. Instead, these common values build emotional loyalty, creating a relationship that’s personal and action-oriented.

Emotional loyalty goes beyond doling out points or moving shoppers up VIP tiers; it means tapping into that genuine connection shoppers feel toward their favorite brands, and behavioral loyalty is only one piece of the puzzle. Brands need to gain shoppers’ emotional loyalty to catalyze action, and prioritizing shared values is an ideal way to build that emotional connection from the start.

Shoppers have high expectations when it comes to brand loyalty. Not only do they look for top-tier experiences, exceptional customer service, and a genuine connection with a brand, but they need to know that a brand cares about the issues they care about — especially sustainability and sustainable justice. 

That’s why it’s essential to build a loyalty program that rewards shoppers for sustainable-centric actions. When brands align their loyalty programs to their shoppers’ values, they drive stronger retention in the long run. In fact, according to Yotpo’s recent survey, loyalty programs make over 60% of global shoppers more loyal to a brand

Loyalty programs deliver hyper-relevant, personalized experiences that make shoppers feel valued. And, they ensure that customers have these relationship-catalyzing moments in every interaction they have with a brand. Every time a customer interacts with an email, a brand’s website, or an SMS message, it’s an opportunity for brands to personalize that touchpoint using loyalty program data — and an opportunity to amplify their mission and values.

Here are a few use cases from brands we love to help inspire your own loyalty campaigns.

A program with an interactive impact: Tentree

Tentree, a sustainable fashion brand, prioritizes eco-consciousness at every touchpoint. The brand knew shoppers would buy into a program where they could see their positive impact on the environment, so Tentree created Impact Wallet.

The engaging and interactive program allows members to track their impact on sustainability and “level up” to different Achievements. By structuring their loyalty program around social responsibility, tentree reinforces their brand mission and encourages shoppers to play an active role in combating climate change.

Earn points for taking action: Girlfriend Collective

Sustainable activewear brand Girlfriend Collective’s aptly named loyalty program The Collective allows members to earn rewards for shopping and taking part in eco-friendly actions.

Members can earn 100 points by posting a picture of themselves wearing Girlfriend items and doing good by the Earth — planting trees, participating in a beach clean-up — with the hashtag #GoodJobGF.

Earn points for recycling: Credo Beauty

Beauty brand Credo Beauty incentives shoppers to recycle their used products in-store through their partnership with Pact, a beauty-focused non-profit organization. To avoid introducing more virgin plastic into landfills, shoppers can deposit small plastic bottles, tubes, compacts, and more in Pact bins throughout the brand’s physical retail locations.

What do consumers get out of this donation? Ten Credo Rewards Points per product recycled.

Convert points to donations: Plae

Plae, a specialty footwear brand for kids, offers shoppers the opportunity to donate their accrued loyalty points to a cause. Shoppers can donate up to 4500 points, equivalent to $45, to Plae’s current recipient, Race4Good. Customers feel empowered by their loyalty membership to contribute directly to a cause they stand behind. For sustainability-focused businesses, eligible causes could focus on nature conservation, reforestation, ocean de-pollution, and more.

Double down on brand values: Steve Madden

Global retailer Steve Madden prioritizes sustainability across their organization. Not only does the brand aim to use sustainable materials and recycled packaging, they also have a clear dedication to diversity & inclusion and a positive climate impact, as outlined on their dedicated Sustainability @ Steve Madden page.

By acting on their brand mission in so many ways, including actively signing pledges and getting involved with organizations that are making a difference, Steve Madden’s customers can clearly see their dedication to company values — and a brand’s dedication to aligned values like this translates directly to higher customer loyalty.

Amplify your mission with loyalty

There are many sustainable brands that have managed to build effective, mission-driven loyalty programs that enable customers to take part in their larger mission. By making sustainability a central part of their program, these brands drive shopper engagement and action.

Learn more about sustainability & loyalty programs with Yotpo here.

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