As a small business owner, you are attuned to your customer base, from what they want to how much they can afford. If you’re not, you will sacrifice crucial revenue-bearing opportunities. And at this juncture, demonstrating that you are doing right by the environment is often an essential component to success.
According to a 2021 report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, “eco-wakening” is driving sales, not just across the U.S., but worldwide. Yet as much as consumers are interested in protecting the natural world, they are also conscious of their financial constraints. Therefore, you may want to consider ways of conducting business that could satisfy your customers’ desire to make decisions that are positive for the planet as well as their financial position. Here are a few simple ways to accomplish both.
Provide low-impact packaging
If you have a storefront presence, consider ways to send your customers off with products in bags that are made from eco-friendly substances. If you have an ecommerce business, do the same with boxes and packing materials. They can even be less expensive than traditional packaging, so do a price comparison before purchasing. Look for eco-friendly packaging made from biodegradable materials, such as cornstarch, glassine (made from wood pulp) and cellulose (made from hemp, wood, and cotton) since they are broken down naturally by bacteria, mold, and fungi. Make sure your customers know that you’ve made that decision too, by imprinting what the bags and boxes are made from, as well as your company’s name.
Support a sustainable cause
Connect your business to an environmental issue that you believe in, and support it by donating a percentage of all sales, sales made on a certain day of the week, or sales from select products. Authenticity counts, because you will promote what you’re doing and why. Just make sure the organization is a qualified non-profit, isn’t controversial, and has an excellent reputation. If you don’t have one in mind, check Charity Navigator and identify the nonprofit that has high ratings. Since the expense of your donations won’t come out of your customers pockets, they don’t pay more. When there is a choice to do business with a company that cares about sustainability and one that doesn’t, they may be more apt to choose yours.
Connect with environmentally favorable brands
Not all of your merchandise needs to be cause-connected but offering at least a few as viable options shows you walk the talk. Consider companies that produce products in countries that have especially high manufacturing standards for pollution control, such as United Kingdom, Switzerland, United States, Japan, and Canada. Sell brands that are already in compostable containers, like water that is bottled in paper boxes rather than in plastic. Mix it up. Those items may be a little more expensive than others, but when they match your customers value systems, they may decide to splurge a bit.
Waste less, give back
What are you throwing away every day, week, or month? Whatever it is, it’s not just a dollars going down the drain, but all that stuff is adding to the trash heap. Audit your garbage on a quarterly basis, then make changes to what you toss that will reduce the amount of waste. Pass the savings on to your customers with lower prices than your competitors. But don’t stop there. You can attract customers to your store or website by offering discounts on less-than-perfect items. Market the sales as the ecologically sound choice. Or donate anything you no longer need to a person, group, or school that can give them a second life.
Engage customers in solutions
Don’t let all your hard work go unnoticed. If you don’t have a strong social media presence now, don’t delay. Get on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter, and develop a campaign with a regular stream of engaging content. Highlight everything you are doing for the environment. But it’s not just about output. Use these platforms as a communications tool. Ask users to submit suggestions on what they would like to see you carry or do so you can be a better part of the solution. You can even host a contest for the best idea, with a compelling prize for the winner, then profile that person on the site.
In the end, helping people make environmentally positive spending decisions that fit within their budget benefits them, your venture, and, ultimately, the world-at-large. You want your customers to be excited about their choices, and to view you as the small business owner who genuinely cares about them and the future of mother earth. Because you do.