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Cheat sheet: 22 studies on ROI of Sustainability

The famous line from the 1996 film "Jerry Maguire" and it echoed in dramatic negotiations between professional athletes and their agent: Jerry Maguire played by Tom Cruise. "Show me the money!"

Here it is's in sustainability:

Sustainable Brands just came out with their latest overview of recent studies showing the return on investment (ROI) from--what I would call--smart sustainability (since "dumb sustainability" wouldn't produce any enduring benefit). Here's a quick summary of six "show me the money" studies for you:

  • Project ROI: recent report funded by Verizon, Campbell's and others summarizes 300 studies and claims smart sustainability can increase revenue 20%, market value 6%, employee productivity 13%, reduce turnover 50% and provide risk protection of up to 7% of company value

  • Green Giants: book by Freya Williams, CEO of North America at Futerra, a sustainability strategy and creative agency, compared market performance of high performing, "green giant" companies and found they performed 11.7% better than their leading competitors from 2010 to 2015 and outperformed S&P 500 by 6.8% per year.

  • Meaningful Brands Study: a brand's "share of wallet" -- a metric in marketing that measures the percentage of a customer's wallet is spent on a companies products and services -- is 46% higher for "meaningful brands" (defined as brands seen to improve health and quality of life)

  • Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing examined performance data for 10,228 open-end mutual funds and 2,874 Separately Managed Accounts (SMAs) and found that "investing

in sustainability has usually met, and often exceeded, the performance of comparable traditional investments" (on an absolute and a risk-adjusted basis).

Audrey Choi, CEO of Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing

  • CDP Report found that corporate leaders in managing climate change impacts among the S&P 500 generate superior profitability – with return on equity (ROE) 18% higher than that of their low scoring peers and 50% lower revenue volatility of earnings

  • Nielsen's Global Survey of CSR and Sustainability found that 66% of respondents say they’re willing to pay more for products and services with better social and environmental impact, an increase from 55% in 2014 and 50% in 2013. Nielsen also found that brand trust was the #1 purchase influencer for 62% of global respondents (30,000 consumers in 60 countries).

Read the full Sustainable Brands report.

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