In a world where Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS launch is likely to dominate headlines around climate change, consumers will be grappling with a growing cacophony of environmental messages.
This digital noise is not just turned up to maximum volume. There are mixed signals, and audiences are often confused rather than enlightened. After more than 20 years of observing and working to improve the state of business sustainability, I see a pressing need to change this narrative for clarity, purpose, and real environmental progress. I feel that.
Consider the SKIMS campaign. It combines environmental awareness and fashion innovation, expressed with humor.
“Sea levels are rising and ice sheets are shrinking. I’m no scientist, but I believe everyone can use their skill set to play their part. Introducing the built-in bra. So no matter how hot you are, you always look cold,” said Kardashian, co-founder of SKIMS, valued at $4 billion after its latest funding round.
Introducing a “nipple bra” alongside the fact of climate change was meant to be eye-catching. However, this left many questioning the sincerity and impact of such messages. The resulting uproar among climate change activists and commentators echoes a broader issue: the struggle to balance trendiness and genuine sustainability concerns in meaningful and impactful ways. highlighted.
This confusion is further exacerbated by the relentless digital marketing machine. The latest research from Gumtree highlights a surprising reality. Consumers are exposed to an average of 10 brand alerts per week and face pressure to keep up with the relentless pace of trends, often resulting in purchase regret. This purchasing behavior, driven by fear of missing out, contributes not only to economic waste but also to environmental degradation, a double whammy for conscious consumers.
In this context, we’re ready for peak shopping season, as Planet Mark’s sustainability experts remind us of the notoriously carbon-heavy Black Friday sales. That’s what I mean. They suggest that brands evolve into tangible solutions. That means switching to electric vans, sourcing materials locally, and choosing trains over petrol vans for transportation.
Dr Rima Trofimovite of Planet Mark said: “Black Friday is an important time for shoppers and businesses alike. However, it can be a carbon-intensive period and have a negative impact on the environment. 2023 is set to be the hottest year on record. As expected, it is important for businesses to re-evaluate their transport and delivery practices. Making conscious choices to reduce their carbon impact can make a big difference.”
There is a clear fragmentation of environmental messages in this chain of instruction. Consumers need to understand different messages such as “sustainable” products, carbon-conscious shopping tips and attention-grabbing campaigns. Amidst this disorienting array, the core message of the urgent need for sustainable change risks getting lost.
There are two problems. Companies must commit to clear, consistent, and transparent communication about their environmental efforts. At the same time, consumers need guidance on how to navigate these messages to make informed decisions that align with their values. The blend of sensationalism and hard environmental facts does little to aid or deepen this understanding.
In the wake of Kardashian’s controversial campaign and the ensuing debate, the debate about sustainable change has ironically been brought back into the spotlight. Climate change activists are holding the SKIMS brand accountable for the lightbulb moment that opened the eyes of millions to climate messages. After all, this is what Kim Kardashian is a master of. She reached many consumers who probably wouldn’t normally engage with or be influenced by climate messages. Ten percent of the sales of this bra will be donated to the non-profit organization One Percent for the Planet. Some may argue that this is a positive move, while others may argue that the brand is simply “buying” environmentally conscious people.
The fear of greenwashing looms over the corporate world, with brands facing justified accusations of exaggerating their environmental commitments. But this climate of surveillance, while necessary, can also have unintended chilling effects. For some well-intentioned companies, the fear of failure can be instilled and paralyze them.
Trapped in the dichotomy of “fuck you if you do it, damn you if you don’t” and fear that your claims will be seen as overreach, promoting true sustainability efforts and engaging consumers in them. Some companies are hesitant.
This is an opportunity to reframe the narrative. It’s time to sift through the noise, distill the essence of true sustainability, and present it in an accessible and actionable way for consumers.
It is important to cut through the static, clarify the confusion, and guide both businesses and consumers towards meaningful environmental initiatives. After all, sustainability is more than just a marketing trend. Rather, it is an ongoing commitment to the survival and prosperity of our planet, which requires collaboration, innovation, and above all, clear communication.
It’s time to not just hear the message, but understand it and take action. Only then can we move from confusion to clarity, from noise to action, and from digital overload to sustainable outcomes.