"Coopetition" is the new benchmark that brands are setting in a bid to save the world.

The prospect of solving global social and environmental challenges appears more attainable as brands set aside their competitive differences and instead band together on large-scale planet-saving missions.

Consumer expectations are aligned with this collaborative shift. According to a survey run by Wunderman Thompson Data in February 2021 (conducted for our recent report, “Regeneration Rising: Sustainability Futures“), in the wake of COVID-19, 86% of global consumers believe we all need to collaborate to solve world problems and 89% agree that companies, countries and individuals should all work together to tackle sustainability issues. Earlier data, collected in October 2020 for our report “Generation Z: Building a Better Normal,” found that 82% of American gen Zers believe that brands should set aside their differences and work together for the greater good.

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The Climate Pledge

A number of climate pacts are being formed—and brands are signing up in droves. The latest is the Business Alliance for Scaling Climate Solutions (BASCS), launched on June 3 and led by big players including Amazon, Disney, Google, Microsoft, Netflix and Unilever. “The time of climate action is now,” says Patrick Flynn, head of sustainability at Salesforce. “Every business, government and individual must step up to the urgent challenge of climate change and create an inclusive and sustainable future for all.”

Other climate initiatives include the circular fashion syndicate CircularID with H&M, Target and PVH Corp, and The Climate Pledge, led by Amazon, which is positioned as the Paris Agreement for brands.

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REN Clean Skincare's #WeAreAllies campaign

Companies in the same industry are also coming together to set a new standard. In beauty, REN Clean Skincare created #WeAreAllies campaign in April, joining forces with four rival brands—Biossance, Caudalie, Herbivore and Youth to The People—in a pact to use “more planet-friendly packaging” by 2025.

In fashion, three competing luxury giants—LVMH, Prada Group and Richemont—are working together to protect the authenticity and trustworthiness of the industry. The Aura Blockchain Consortium is a new global system using blockchain technology to authenticate luxury goods, from sourcing to the sale transaction and even through to the resale market.

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The Futurecraft sneaker by Adidas and AllBirds
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Smaller collaborative efforts are spurring design innovation. In May, Adidas and AllBirds unveiled the Futurecraft sneaker with “the lowest ever carbon footprint” as their first united project. “Our partnership with AllBirds is a beacon of what can happen when competing brands from the same industry see the possibilities in coming together to design,” says Brian Grevy, executive board member of global brands at Adidas in a release.

But it’s not just about joining forces—brands are now sharing their technologies to speed up sustainable goals. On Earth Day, AllBirds released an open-source version of its carbon footprint calculator and wrote an open letter to some of the largest fashion brands including Burberry, Nike and Uniqlo, inviting them to use the Carbon Footprint tool to better measure their carbon emissions. The company dubs it the “nutrition label for your closet” hoping to create a standardized tag that measures the product’s “cost to the planet.”

This move by AllBirds is reminiscent of Colgate-Palmolive, which released a recyclable toothpaste tube in January 2020 after openly sharing the technology with other companies back in 2019.

The competitive edge is still in play for brands, but when it comes to making greater change, collaborative efforts are elevating a new business momentum—one that prioritizes planetary health, inclusivity and a positive future. After all, 88% of global consumers believe companies have a responsibility to take care of the people and its planet. And brands are responding.

Main image courtesy of AllBirds and Adidas