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Brands are Proving the Power of Green Partnerships

Jordan Kelley, Content Director,

Boxed Water’s commitment to and support of the National Forest Foundation’s tree-planting program has resulted in the reforestation of thousands of acres of National Forests. A leading NFF corporate partner since 2015, this partnership began before the ‘50 million For Our Forests’ campaign and was critical to its successful launch in 2018. Their unique approach, committing to plant two trees from every social media post with #BetterPlanet, has been a driving force for good.

Now, in their seventh year of the partnership, the company’s reforestation investment will reach more than 1,275,000 trees planted in National Forests by the end of 2021.

In a conversation with The Frame Theory Co-Founder and Executive Producer Sarah Ward, Boxed Water’s CMO Rob Koenen, and the National Forest Foundation’s Director of Marketing Colleen Coleman, Brand Storytelling looked at how the NFF/Boxed Water partnership created a brand-authentic movement with powerful results. Here’s what they found:

There are phenomenal changes happening in consumer behavior. Sustainability is gaining strength as a core value that consumers are making buyer decisions against. Millennials are choosing to spend more money on sustainable products. Gen Z is even more inclined to spend more money to ensure that the products they invest in are sustainable as well. This represents a massive change from previous generations as these two generations become the largest group of consumers in the nation. They’re also the most marketed-to groups of all time. An overabundance of choice and overexposure to marketing have made Millennials and Gen Z audiences the most discerning, scrutinizing, and careful consumers ever. All these factors amount to it being in a brand’s best interest to operate sustainably and with transparency, if they want to make consumers out of these two generations.

For a brand, investing in sustainability and partnering with organizations to help facilitate that sustainability is not only the right thing to do from an ethical standpoint, but from a business standpoint as well. Partnerships like the one exemplified by Boxed Water benefit financial, HR, and marketing metrics across the board. When Boxed Water celebrated planting its 1 millionth tree with the NFF last year, they garnered over 13M impressions across all platforms. Partnerships like this one give brands an opportunity to behave with transparency and authenticity in front of the consumer, thus giving that consumer the opportunity to make a positive personal judgment of the brand that ultimately influences what product they grab off the shelf the next time they’re at the supermarket or a convenience store.

Today, brands are no longer just a logo or a product. They are viewed as a collection of employees and leaders. Today’s consumer wants to know what a brand stands for. And although corporate social responsibility has been a part of brand and corporate operations for a long time, it has a history of being siloed from the actual workings of the business itself. Boxed Water is Better was the first national company to offer a sustainable alternative to plastic bottles and aluminum cans with its 92% renewable container. For a decade, they’ve been transparently taking on big soda and big plastic. 5 years ago, to make a bigger environmental and social impact, they initiated their partnership with the national forest foundation. Folks at the NFF drew the correlation between the importance of healthy national forests and our drinking water, and the concept of planting two trees for every #betterplanet post with a carton of boxed water was born. Boxed Water’s own Rob Koenen insists that their product wouldn’t exist or thrive the way it has without the initiation of their partnership with the National Forest Foundation.

Where it was once ok to simply pick a number at the end of the year to donate to one or a few causes, in today’s world brand optics have changed. Modern consumers educate themselves with the internet on what brands are doing in the foreground and background to promote sustainable development goals, reinforcing the notion that taking an active position on issues that relate to a brand’s inherent values serve the brand for both ethical and business reasons. Any brand can learn from the success of Boxed Water is Better and their partnership with the National Forest Foundation. There’s an elegant simplicity in taking stock of the fact that today’s largest consumer group wants more from brands before they give them their trust and dollars; the answer is to listen and find a way to promote a brand’s pre-existing values through allyship and visible, sizable contributions to organizations that share those same values.



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