Special Report: Leading the Way to a Better Planet
Cause-based marketing — i.e., attaching your business to a philanthropic endeavor or social cause — has become increasingly popular among retail brands today. Consumers want to know that the brands they're purchasing from are committed to more than just growing their bottom lines. They expect retailers to be involved in the communities where they operate, whether that means donating to the local children's hospital or helping to build a park. Three retailers that are at the forefront of cause-based marketing when it comes to environmental sustainability are Kohl's, Ikea and Staples.
Caring About the Environment
Being an environmentally sustainable organization is part of Kohl's DNA. The department store retailer's Kohl's Cares initiative aims to protect and conserve the environment through a variety of innovative solutions that encourage long-term sustainability. These solutions range from building environmentally-friendly facilities — Kohl's recently announced the activation of its largest solar project to date at its million-square-foot e-commerce fulfillment center in Edgewood, Md., as well as a 25 percent expansion in its solar program in 2012 (solar panels were installed at approximately 30 additional Kohl's stores last year); joining the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) WasteWise program to formally measure and report its strong commitment to waste reduction and recycling; and partnering with vendors who share Kohl's commitment to supply chain sustainability.
Kohl's has been recognized for its efforts in this arena. The retailer was recently named one of the EPA's Energy Star Partners of the Year for its commitment to environmental sustainability. Kohl's achieved Energy Star certification for 75 stores in 2012, for a companywide total of 752 stores. It also surpassed its goal of achieving a 2 percent improvement in energy efficiency (it achieved a 2.5 percent improvement) by the end of 2012. Kohl's has also recommissioned HVAC units at 114 stores, conducted energy audits at 58 stores and actively monitors alerts sent by its energy management system to warn of excessive energy use at the store level.
"Kohl's takes its commitment to green power and sustainable operations seriously and has set several goals to ensure we continue to strategically advance our programs," said John Worthington, Kohl's chief administrative officer, in a company press release announcing its 2012 Sustained Excellence in Green Power Award from the EPA. "From offsetting 100 percent of our energy use to having 200 solar locations by 2015 to educating our partners about how to establish successful programs of their own, Kohl's is proud to do our part to support green power use."
Kohl's has some lofty goals for its environmental sustainability efforts going forward. It hopes to have 200 brick-and-mortar locations with solar power and 800 Energy Star-labeled stores by 2015; and by 2015, 85 percent of all the waste it generates will be recycled (it currently is at 83 percent).