China has announced ambitious carbon neutrality goals and the country is undergoing a movement towards greener consumption. To participate in this trend and positively impact society and the environment, Alibaba aims to build the future of commerce with sustainability as a core part of the company’s strategy.
Ahead of Earth Day 2022, Alibaba held a webinar event together with New York-based research firm Coresight to discuss the rise of green consumption in China. Event panelists Alibaba Group CMO Chris Tung, Olaplex CEO JuE Wong, and Coresight Research CEO Deborah Weinswig discussed the role of e-commerce platforms in advancing green consumption and how brands share their commitment to sustainability with their consumers in China.
During the webinar, Chris Tung, Chief Marketing Officer of Alibaba Group, shared key insights on the Chinese consumers’ increasing demand for sustainable products and what brands can do to meet the growing interest in green consumption, as well as Alibaba’s role in promoting sustainability in China.
To help consumers get access to more eco-friendly brand and product options as they embrace sustainability, Alibaba is working to spotlight more sustainable products on the company’s platform through consumer education.
- Brands with sustainable missions can leverage Alibaba’s comprehensive tool box including livestreaming to communicate with their consumers.
- For example, San Francisco-based sustainable footwear brand Rothy’s often invites their consumers as “KOCs” (Key Opinion Consumers) to join livestreaming sessions to tell their brand story.
- Chinese consumers further embrace brands with sustainable ethos through this education process empowered by the broad eco-friendly options offered to them.
- Fashion footwear brands Allbirds, Rothy’s, and sustainable drinkware brand Klean Kanteen, British tea brand Tee Pigs, Paris-based clean beauty brand La Bouche Rouge are some examples of sustainable brands seeing success on the platform.
- Tmall will include carbon emission labeling and green product channels to better educate users.
Strong platform position to promote sustainability in China
Alibaba’s convening power in promoting sustainability and diverse suite of toolkits position the company to promote sustainability in China.
- Convening power in promoting sustainability: Alibaba has access to millions of merchants and a billion consumers. The large user number and the engaged way Alibaba connects with them move the needle in promoting green consumption behaviors.
- A broad offerings of digital tools: Alibaba provides merchants and brands with diverse options to showcase their sustainability commitments, including marketing campaigns, cloud solutions and logistics. These tools enable Alibaba and our partners to go green and promote our sustainable brand identity to Chinese consumers.
- For example, Alibaba’s logistics arm Cainiao has built up a global green supply chain for merchants and brands to reduce carbon footprints. By reducing the size of its electronic shipping label, it has saved 400 billion pieces of paper over the past six years. Cainiao also began using energy generated by rooftop solar panels to power operations within its bonded warehouses.
- Additionally, Alibaba Cloud’s product and technology innovations have helped customers find greater energy efficiency, through liquid-cooling data-center technology and other proprietary products that deliver high performance with lower power consumption.
- Mobilized resources that may set a direction for the sector to follow suit: In February 2021, Alibaba issued a $1 billion Sustainability Bond, the first-of-its-kind initiative in China’s technology sector. The fund was dedicated to 12 key projects, such as constructing green data centers and energy-efficient buildings, and a testament to Alibaba’s commitment to building a sustainable future.
The Critical role of technology
With technology at the center of everything Alibaba does, Alibaba Cloud leverages technology to advance the sustainability agenda for our partners.
- Alibaba Cloud employs cutting-edge green technologies in its data centers. During last year’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, the company reduced computing resources by 50 percent (during peak time) on the cloud, year over year, through cloud-native technologies.
- As a Worldwide Olympic Partner since 2017, Alibaba helped the Olympic Games transition into the digital era. For the first time, Alibaba Cloud migrated the core operations of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 to the cloud. The new cloud-based broadcast distribution system saw nearly 40 percent reduction of onsite broadcast personnel compared to last winter Olympics, significantly reducing the total carbon footprint of the games.
Working with international partners to create a greener consumption environment in China
- Alibaba’s partnership with Unilever involves rolling out green-shelf space throughout the e-commerce platforms and launching joint marketing campaigns to promote a greener lifestyle. Alibaba also plans to launch more than 1,000 AI-powered plastic recycling machines at university campuses across China.
- Cainiao partnered with Nestlé to roll out a green supply chain, including packaging recycling, smart inventory allocation, and a smart packaging algorithm.
- Alibaba has been developing a green alliance for both international and domestic brands since last 11.11, calling for merchants to be more responsive to sustainable trends and deploy greener ways to operate.
JuE Wong, CEO of Olaplex, further discussed Olaplex’s collaboration with Tmall Global and consumer insights learned from this partnership.
- Consumer insight: Through the partnership with Alibaba, Olaplex understands that Chinese consumers’ consumption choice goes beyond products functionality and quality to the sustainability aspects of products and brands. Sustainability has become a lifestyle for Chinese consumers and this knowledge provides helpful insight for our product development and brand marketing.
- Leveraging Alibaba’s diverse resources: Tmall Global offers a diverse range of innovative and immersive tools including livestream to help international brands like Olaplex engage with China’s digital-savvy consumers and amplify brands’ sustainability messaging.
- Mobilizing consumers: Through these personalized communications channels, we inform consumers exactly how much they contribute to sustainability every time they purchase a green product. These efforts make consumers feel proud and further enhance their willingness to participate in green consumption behaviors.
“I’m seeing a lot of questions and challenges about the profitability for going green both for merchants and the platform. The answer to that is, by doing good, we can do well. It’s not a binary choice of impact versus profits. We see business opportunities to co-create a more sustainable future with our merchants and brands. We believe our users, partners and investors also know we will create greater value for all stakeholders. We see clear demand signals from consumers for green products, so this is not just a push from the supply side. It’s a significant business opportunity for brands. We will need to be innovative, as we always are, in driving green consumption.” concluded Chris Tung (Alibaba Group CMO).
Click HERE for the replay of the Webinar