Supply-Chain GHG Reduction for Lifestyle Brand

“Lifestyle brands” is a term to which many companies are gravitating. But what does it actually mean?

Lifestyle brands focus on a specific group – as highlighted in this Medium article, be it skateboarders, young creatives, or fitness devotees – providing products that have intrinsic group appeal.

For some lifestyle brands, environmental values will be critically important.  Long-time inNative client Clif Bar could be considered a lifestyle brand, and their outdoor sports enthusiasts care about the outdoors. For these lifestyle brands to have integrity, they must understand the environmental footprint of their supply-chain.

For the company that inNative recently worked with, we conducted a first-level screening of which aspects of supply-chain were “hot spots” (major contributors), and specifically on GHG (versus other potential and legitimate concerns, like water use and toxicity, for lifestyle brands whose customers care about those issues).

Our screening looked at the constituents, ingredients, and packaging for a range of products, as well as manufacturing and the transport needed to get everything to the right place. It is important to weight the various constituents/ingredients based on the % to which the ingredient comprises the final product. An ingredient that has a large footprint is unlikely to have a great impact if it only comprises 1% of the product.

Where we compare two interchangeable products, we have to define the “functional unit”. Functional unit takes into account the potential that you have to use more of one product than another to get the same effect or service. For example, if you need 2g of sunscreen to get the same effect of 1g of salve, then when comparing footprint, you must compare 2g of sunscreen to 1g of salve.

Most available life cycle data lends itself to generating footprint per kg of product, like the following:

By applying product weight, you get the result per unit of product:

Then your mission is clear.

Look at the products with highest $ value per kg GHG to pinpoint how to be a “high carbon value” company, generating significant revenue and creating jobs from low- and no-carbon products.  That’s the real endgame for any business serious about climate. The analysis above could suggest focusing the five products in the center, but only IF their $ value isn’t so low that it wipes out their GHG advantage.  Certainly look at other indicators as well, to ensure you’re not creating significant problems in the GHG reduction quest, but otherwise move forward.

In addition, you should also do an honest comparison of the various contributions of the supply-chain.  Visualization of that will look like:

The latter helps hone in on where to focus on reducing GHG impact.  In this case, sourcing and packaging pop out as general priorities, with transportation of ingredients and packaging secondary impacts, but which phase is significant varies between products.

It’s all part of the data gathering -> analysis -> insight spectrum!  Translate the insight into action and make the data better for next round.  And if you’re seeking to be a lifestyle brand for a segment that cares about climate and environment, this work is critically important.