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Sustainability in the Age of Influencer Marketing

Sustainability in the Age of Influencer Marketing

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Step aside, big PR unboxings — sustainability has arrived. Influencers are becoming increasingly more conscientious about the ecological impact they have. This includes both their own consumption patterns and the products they use. From fashion and travel influencers choosing more sustainable paths to minimalist and zero waste influencers who promote ways to shrink your footprint, the influencer marketing community is putting the focus on their impact on the environment. Influencers are also choosing which brands they partner with based on how environmentally and socially conscious they are.

By implementing these tips, brands can create a more sustainable experience for their influencer collaborators and their customers.

Use recyclable packaging

Sustainable packaging has a smaller footprint in terms of water, carbon, and chemical use along with overall waste. At the bare minimum, packaging should be able to be recycled curbside by most (if not all) consumers. Brands need to look at the packaging of their actual products and the way they ship products to influencers and consumers. While changing the packaging for all your products might be a big undertaking, it will have long term positive impacts on the environment and your brand reputation. 

Influencers have become more vocal about their frustration with wasteful products, especially in the beauty space. From 2018 to 2019 the use of hashtag mentions like “#wastefulpackaging” and keyword phrases like “too much packaging” increased by 100 percent. At the very least, brands should focus on using packaging that’s recyclable when shipping gifts and samples to influencers to cut down on waste.

Don’t go overboard with PR packages

It’s tempting to send a big, flashy PR package with (sometimes literal) bells and whistles, but take a step back and consider the environmental impact. Elaborate PR packages with electronics or cumbersome packaging can’t be recycled easily and are more trouble than they’re worth. Not only are these packages bad for the environment, they put extra stress on the influencer who has to figure out what to do with the packaging.

Instead, brands should look for creative packaging ideas that are sustainable but still fun. Consider using packaging that can be upcycled, not just recycled. Find creative ways to package things to create a special experience for your influencer that doesn’t have a negative impact on the environment.

Limit the amount of product you send

If you’re sending out gifts or samples to influencers, you may want to send a variety of products. For beauty brands, this can mean sending a sample of every single shade. While this might show off the range of your products, it can be wasteful. Keep product waste to a minimum by asking influencers what they want. Even if it “ruins” the surprise, reach out to your influencers to ask if there’s anything specific they want to try. Instead of sending them 40 shades of foundation and concealer or 25 different lipsticks that they may never wear, you can send them something they’ll actually use!

In addition to limiting the amount of product you’re sending, talking to your influencer can help you send them more tailored products. It’s not only better for the environment, it can also help you build relationships with your influencers. Sending out products your influencers will actually like and use cuts down on product waste and makes your influencers feel more valued at the same time.

Provide return labels

Even if you limit the products you ship, there may still be some product leftover that your influencers may not want or need. Instead of letting it go to waste, you can give your influencers return labels to send unused products back to you or donate them to a charitable organization like a local women’s shelter. Including a return label in your gifts shows thoughtfulness about your environmental impact, which influencers will appreciate. Donating to local organizations also gives your brand and your influencers an opportunity to give back and make a difference that goes beyond sustainability.

From 2013 to 2018, more than 50% of the growth of consumer packaged goods came from products marketed for their sustainability. Consumers — especially the younger generations — care more about their environmental impact. Adopting more sustainable practices in your influencer marketing campaigns isn’t just good for the environment, it’s also good for business. By making small changes to how much product you spend, how you package products, and what you do with unused products, you can make your influencer marketing campaigns more sustainable. 

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