Rainforest Alliance is proving that green products win customers and grow sales. Impressively, Rainforest Alliance certified chocolates now represent 10% of the world’s chocolate sales. Their certified teas have 12% worldwide market share. Approximately 15% of all bananas are Rainforest Alliance certified. The business success generated by the Rainforest Alliance has attracted hundreds of alliance partners including Unilever, Yogi Tea and Clif Bar.
Sales Best Practices!
Rainforest Alliance’s products offer best-practices examples on how going green wins customers. Market research is documenting a consumer revolution driven by their search for authenticity in the products they buy and the businesses they buy from. Today’s moms are searching for products that align value with values in support of their family’s wellness. The millennial generation is looking for businesses that are “cool with a purpose.” Corporate America is greening their supply chain to cut risks and costs. The bottom line for every business is that the global market for more sustainable goods and services now exceeds $1 trillion in annual revenues and is a path for achieving superior business revenue growth.
Proven: CSR reduces risks and costs
The Rainforest Alliance’s certification process is also proving that greening a supply chain reduces business risks and costs. The global supply chain has proven to be a two-edged sword. It can deliver lower prices but with higher supply chain risk that can end up destroying profits and a company’s brand equity. Corporate social responsibility best practices are no longer a “do-good” island of actions without links to corporate profitability. Companies like Unilever, Ford and Walmart are using corporate social responsibility best practices to better manage their supply chain risks. Programs like the Rainforest Alliance’s certification process enables a business to identify and mitigate human, environmental and economic risks. The proven business bottom line is reduced costs, reduced damage to brand equity and increased competitive advantage.
”Shop the frog.” Rainforest Alliance’s marketing best practices
Amazingly, the non-profit Rainforest Alliance is showing businesses how to win customers and make money using corporate social responsibility best practices. Their key best practices are:
Align value with values. Pricing is always critical in winning customers and competitive advantage. A key lesson learned is that most customers don’t want to pay more for going green. But there is a critically important exception to this rule. About 15-20% of customers will pay a little more for a product that better aligns with their values. Moms will really work their budgets to afford a product that truly makes a wellness difference on behalf of their loved ones. The millennial generation will shop at Patagonia even if their prices are higher because this company’s authenticity aligns with this generation’s thirst for authenticity. The business bottom line is that a group of really significant customers are willing to pay more to go green. Winning these customers will generate attractive profit results. What the Rainforest Alliance program enables is a path for a business to offer products with certified authenticity at competitive prices.
Trust is the brand. In today’s social media connected world a product can go from being a protein meat supplement to “pink slim” with one video or blog posting that goes viral. Company and product brands are trust-marks for today’s consumers. Trust is built through authenticity and transparency plus the ability to communicate these qualities in a credible manner. Certifications from organizations like the Rainforest Alliance are now critical brand components expected by jaundiced consumers.
“Shop the frog” marketing. Another reality in today’s world is that none of us have the time to be experts on every product we buy. Marketing is the path for engaging customers on all their issues beyond the price tag. Rainforest Alliance has effectively done this by creating a marketing campaign called “shop the frog!” Their frog logo captures in one image all that the Alliance represents and stands behind in certifying products. It is a fun, easy way for consumers to find products and companies that align with their wellness, social and environmental concerns. This can be especially valuable to small and mid-size businesses by offering them a globally recognized logo comparable to the logos built by large corporations.
Tensie Whelan, Rainforest Alliance President
At the 2013 Sustainable Brands conference I had the opportunity to interview Tensie Whelan, President of Rainforest Alliance. Tensie is one of those bright, positive people that leave you with a strong impression of hope that there are triple bottom line solutions for our economy, society and environment. The following short video profiles her enthusiasm and insights.
About the author
Bill Roth is an economist and the Founder of Earth 2017. He coaches business owners and leaders on proven best practices in pricing, marketing and operations that make money and create a positive difference. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles business case studies of pioneering best practices that are proven to win customers and grow product revenues. Follow him on Twitter: @earth2017