Companies in Action
NIKE Inc. unleashes innovation to address sustainability challenges and boost revenues. Leading companies are creating shared value and redefining business strategies to meet society’s most pressing environmental and social challenges. Innovation is a core part of Nike's business strategy. The footwear giant has turned to its ever-evolving innovation approach over the past decade to deliver high-quality products while meeting ambitious sustainability expectations. A milestone in its journey is Nike’s FlyKnit. The company’s innovative technology has generated more than $1 billion in revenue (and is quickly approaching $2 billion) since its launch in 2012—along with diverting 470 million plastics bottles from landfills and avoiding over 10 million pounds of waste. Nike has been drawing attention to these connections for its shareholders, and the broader stakeholder community, making the case that sustainability is a powerful business catalyst now more than ever.
Patagonia’s purpose-driven approach fuels long-term business growth. The company’s mission statement—build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis—has rallied millions of consumers to join Patagonia on its journey and, in turn, fueled business growth. With a business approach geared towards long-term thinking, Patagonia has managed to bypass the traditional mentality focused on quarterly results, quadrupling revenue over the past decade while staying true to its mission. Known for its disruptive marketing campaigns, environmental activism and commitment to transparency, Patagonia has built a movement in the sustainability space and led the charge among retailers. Building on its founder’s bold mission to save the planet, the company has launched business initiatives that have set the pace for the market, ranging from a venture capital fund that invests in starts-ups addressing environmental issues to Patagonia Provisions, a move to expanded into the food space through a selection of sustainable foods aimed at fixing the food chain.
Unilever’s purpose-led brands outperform and reinforce the business case for sustainability. Under its Sustainable Living Plan, launched in 2010, the giant consumer goods company has established leading targets for decoupling its growth from its environmental impacts, embedding these priorities within the company’s core business. In its 2019 integrated report, the company notes that one in three people globally use Unilever products. Realizing the responsibility that comes from this sweeping reach, Unilever has defined its purpose to make sustainable living commonplace. In 2019, the company announced that its Sustainable Living Brands were growing 69% faster—up from 46% in 2017—than the rest of the brands in the company’s portfolio, delivering 75% of the company’s growth.