Sustainability Sells, Just Ask Walmart

A well rounded sustainability best practices strategy will drive revenue for large and small businesses


Walmart just announced a Sustainability Leadership Shop website solely focused upon their growing range of products that are both affordable and sustainably designed. Impressively, Walmart now offers sustainably-designed products in the categories of electronics, toys, household and pet items, baby, grocery, clothing and health/beauty. The website’s marketing banner is “Making it easier to save more today, for a better tomorrow.”  Walmart’s revenue growth strategy is to offer consumers more-sustainable products at competitive prices. Walmart’s pricing theme is that “you don’t have to pay more for sustainability.”

Walmart’s Sustainability Leadership Shop adds to the growing evidence that the 21st Century path to winning revenue growth is through the sustainability of a company’s products and operations. Businesses with products that are sustainably sourced and that deliver “in me, on me and around me” solutions win customers. Just as critically, companies that are failing to align with customer values, or that operate in a manner that is harmful to people or the planet, are facing revenue erosion. This article outlines case examples of how to use sustainable best practices to grow your company’s revenues.

Sustainability drives a food industry sales revolution

Chipotle is now the highest valued restaurant in America with a stock price of over $600 per share. They describe their mega-sales success as, “good food wins.”  Their offering of sustainably sourced food has won them immerse loyalty from the millennial generation customer-segment. Chipotle’s “Back To Start” Youtube movie that extols sustainable farming practices has catapulted their brand awareness to industry leadership levels with over 8 million views.

In comparison, McDonalds has lost the millennial generation customer because their products and processes do not align with this generation’s self-definition of being “cool with a purpose.”  They have also lost moms as customers over obesity and diabetes health concerns. No amount of value meal pricing and supersized offerings will win back these key customers. The loss of these key customers has caused one financial report to summarize McDonald’s revenues as seeing “fewer customers, revenue misses

The sugary soft drink industry is also confronting stagnant and declining revenue growth for its key products due to this sustainability-marketing paradigm shift. The industry’s response of aggressive promotional pricing and increased “feel good” advertising is now failing to achieve the traditional jump in sales. The marketing realty is that customers are increasingly linking sugary and artificially sweetened drinks to obesity and diabetes.

Starbucks is growing revenues in comparison to companies like the Coca-Cola Company. Starbucks is achieving double-digit quarterly revenue growth in part because of health studies that endorse the benefits of drinking coffee as a daily caffeine fix compared to drinking caffeinated soft drinks.

Apple is more sustainable and twice as valuable as ExxonMobile 

Apple is now valued at twice the level of ExxonMobile, the second most highly valued company in the world with a product linked to global warming. As Apple’s stock continues to soar it is poised to become the first trillion dollar valued corporation. Sustainability is a major driver behind Apple’s financial success.

Apple represents the triple bottom line of how sustainability can grow sales, cut costs/risk and increase brand equity in the following 3 ways:

1. Apple sells more-sustainable solutions. Apple’s pioneering iPhone has disrupted the paper industry, the film industry and the U.S. postal system. We buy more Apple products and less postage, camera film and paper. We also drive and fly less because Apple, and similar digital technologies, has increased our connectivity. The net result is increased sales for Apple while also reducing the emissions impacts of individual consumers.

Next page: Apple's sustainable strategy #2 and #3


About the author

Bill Roth

Bill Roth is the Founder of Earth 2017. Roth is a nationally-recognized business coach that has successfully enabled hundreds of business owners to win new customers, grow product revenues and cut costs. His most recent book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles best practices in pricing, marketing and branding that win millennial generation customers and their moms! Roth has served as the Green Business Coach for and coach for the U.S Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Green Builds Business program. Roth’s has held numerous executive leadership roles in the development of clean technology projects including the launch of thefirst hydrogen-fueled Prius. Follow him on Twitter