As the world becomes increasingly concerned with sustainability, businesses are expected to do their part in minimizing their impact on the environment. Amazon, as the biggest Ecommerce platform has recently introduced their ‘Climate Pledge Friendly‘ program, partnering with a selection of 3rd party sustainability certifications to make it easier for customers to identify sustainable products on the marketplace.
For business owners the process of obtaining a sustainability certification might seem intimidating because of the time, effort involved and the high cost. In this article we will provide a framework for the decision process of whether to pursue a sustainability certification to help you decide which one (if any) is the best fit for your brand and products.
Why Should you Certify your Products With a 3rd Party Sustainability Label?
Consumers increasingly care about their footprint in the world and know that their spending behaviours influence it. About 93% of global consumers expect the brands they use to support social and environmental issues. Brands that disregard these expectations might lose out on potential customers.
Sustainability also influences price premiums. 55% of global online consumers say they are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.
Importance of sustainability is likely to increase in the future as younger generations become more influential. Among global respondents who are responsive to sustainability actions, half are Millennials (age 21-34), representing 51% of those who will pay extra for sustainable products and check the packaging for sustainability labelling.
Signalling Effect in the Purchase Decision Process
The time a consumer spends on deciding which product to purchase can be very short. The average consumer spends only 19 seconds to purchase with the majority spending less than 10 seconds.
Especially if you sell on marketplaces like Amazon your product is only one of many options that are all presented in a very similar way. That makes it hard for them to stand out.
A sustainability certification is a way to present a clear and well known USP to the customer, especially if your target audience cares about sustainability – which increasingly more people do. According to APP research, more than 80% of Americans have checked for sustainability / environmental information on labels when making a purchase.
As labels often come in the form of an image, they provide additional benefit by making sustainability information easier to process. The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual.
One benefit of a 3rd party sustainability certification lies in the potential trust your target audience has in them. Seeing the label triggers previously collected information and in the best case invoke feelings of trust in your sustainability efforts.
Benefits on Amazon
As Amazon is increasingly accepting its responsibility in supporting sustainability practices it supports brands that take part in that – to your benefit. You can read more in detail about how the Climate Pledge Friendly program can help you on Amazon here but here’s a quick summary:
- The Climate Pledge Friendly badge provides more space on the search result page for your product and adds a visual differentiator to competitors’ products.
- Might improve your click rate and conversion rate, leading to higher sales.
- The green label is a strong signalling tool for attracting a sustainability-oriented audience.
Who Should / Should Not Get Certified?
Even if you’re a sustainability focused business and a certification might seem like a no brainer at this point – in some instances it’s not your best option. Before we dive into how to choose the right sustainability certification let’s shine a light on how to determine if any of the certifications are a good idea for you.
Factors that favour getting externally certified:
- You’re selling your products in a marketplace and are therefore exposed to a lot of competition with limited options to stand out. In this case the certification might provide a necessary USP.
- Sustainability is an important part of your brand values.
- Sustainability certifications are well accepted within your product category and business space.
- Your target audience regards 3rd party sustainability certifications positively.
Factors that might favour a different approach:
- Certifications don’t fit your sustainability expectations, I.e., don’t have strict enough requirements.
- 3rd party certifications are not a good fit with product category or business space.
- Labels are not well known by your target audience or even negatively associated.
- Certification fees are too high for your means.
How Do you Choose the Right Certification(s)?
If at this point you have decided that 3rd party sustainability certifications generally make sense to you it’s now time to decide which specific certification is the best fit. Putting a little bit of time and effort into the decision process will save you resources later. We have come up with a framework that helps you evaluate individual certification options to determine which one(s) might be a good fit for your case.
Framework for Sustainability Certifications Decision Process
- Certification Type: Which part of the business gets certified?
- Product certification – focuses on sustainability aspects of the product (I.e., FSC)
- Process certification – focuses on sustainability aspects of the supply chain and/or production process (I.e., Carbon Trust, Bluesign)
- Business certification – focuses on sustainability aspects of the entire company (currently no partner of Amazon)
- Fit to Current State of Product/Business: How much would you have to change in the product/process/business to meet the certification requirements?
- Fees & Degree of involvement: Monetary fees; how involved is the process and how many resources will it require on your side?
- Certification Timeframe: How long does it take to get the certification?
- Certification Popularity: How well known is the certification; what’s their reputation in your target market and among your target audience?
- Brand Fit: Do the certification values fit your brand values?
- Target Audience Fit: Does your target audience care about that type of certification?
- Trends: Is the certification trending upwards in adoption or are businesses and consumers beginning to move away from it in favour of another?
- Certification Age: Has it been around long enough that you can trust the governing body?
How Do You Obtain a Sustainability Certification?
Now that you’ve decided whether a 3rd party sustainability certification is right for your business and are equipped with a framework to decide which certification is right for you, you’re ready to take one step further and choose one of the organisations that are a partner of Amazon and their Climate Pledge Friendly program.
To make things easier for you we will dive deep into each certification and our framework factors to help make your decision as easy as possible.
In the meantime, here is an overview of all of Amazon’s current partners (US market):
External sustainability certifications provide several benefits and almost seem inevitable if you’re a sustainable business selling on Amazon. The process of obtaining one can be lengthy and costly so it’s important to consider several factors before deciding for one.
In this article we have explored:
- Why businesses selling on Amazon should consider getting certified with one of the Climate Pledge Friendly certified partners.
- Which factors to consider when deciding whether to pursue a sustainability certification for your business.
- A framework that helps you decide which certification is the best fit for your business and products.
Hopefully you find this overview and our following deep dives into each certification helpful.
Better World Products is an Amazon Agency that helps businesses grow sustainably and profitably on Amazon. If that sounds appealing to you feel free to reach out to us.