How to Accurately Market Your Company’s Carbon Neutral Claims How to Become Carbon Neutral as an Individual Zero Carbon vs Carbon Neutral: What’s the Difference? What You Need to Know Before Monetizing Carbon Credits Carbon Market Value Report 2019 How is the Price of Carbon Determined?

The Marketing Benefits of Going Net Zero for SMEs

In the evolving landscape of business sustainability, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly recognizing the imperative of transitioning to net-zero carbon emissions. SMEs are vital to the global economy, and their transition to net-zero can significantly impact emission reductions. While transitioning is undoubtedly a challenge, it offers substantial marketing and financial opportunities as well.

Making a shift to sustainable practices offers SMEs a chance to:

  1. Enhance their brand image
  2. Attract eco-conscious consumers
  3. Differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive market

In this post, we explore how SMEs can leverage their sustainability efforts not only to mitigate climate impact but also to build stronger customer relationships, foster brand loyalty, and ultimately drive business growth. It is our hope that better understanding the benefits of sustainable practices will motivate more SMEs to pursue these initiatives, leading to better climate outcomes and creating long-term sustainable growth for the economy. Let’s start by looking at a couple of headline case studies that prove our point.

BrewDog’s Carbon-Negative Drive Sustains $2BN Revenues

A notable case study is BrewDog, a craft beer company currently valued at around two billion dollars. In 2019, BrewDog committed to becoming carbon-negative by 2023. To achieve this goal, BrewDog invested in switching their breweries to renewable energy sources. They also reduced their waste outputs through recycling and upcycling initiatives. Additionally, the company invested in a Scottish Highlands forest that offsets more than the total carbon footprint of their operations.

BrewDog’s bold sustainability commitments, heavily promoted through their branding and marketing campaigns, generated widespread earned media coverage. This helped improve their brand image and made them an instant hit with environmentally conscious consumers.

Riverford’s Net-Zero Journey Builds a £100M Brand

Another noteworthy case study is Riverford, an organic farming and food delivery company. Riverford committed to going net-zero and followed through by optimizing delivery routes and using electric vehicles to reduce their supply chain emissions. Furthermore, the company transitioned to 100% renewable energy in their operations and promoted local seasonal produce to minimize carbon footprints. Riverford also invested in soil health to enhance carbon sequestration and reduce agricultural emissions.

Riverford’s commitment to sustainability, heavily highlighted in its marketing materials, led to positive media coverage, recognition with various sustainability awards, and a measurable boost for their brand’s reputation. The company became the go-to choice for environmentally conscious clients in the UK, with annual turnovers that have topped £100 million.

Creating Access to New Markets and Customers

Having reviewed a couple of examples that prove the value of becoming net-zero, let’s dive deeper into the potential benefits SMEs can gain from adopting sustainability as a strategy. Transitioning to net-zero can open up access to new markets and customers for SMEs, particularly as the trend for consumer interest in sustainability continues to rise. While in the early 2000s only 20% of consumers stated sustainability as a concern, Deloitte data from 2020 puts that number at 43%, more than double!

The Marketing Potential of Going Net-Zero for SMEs

Source: Shifting sands: How consumer behavior is embracing sustainability

Aligning with this trend guarantees SMEs access to customer segments that prioritize environmental responsibility in their purchasing decisions. While the macro perspective looks promising, it’s worthwhile looking at another couple of case studies to understand how this plays out at the individual SME level.


Net Zero – The Opportunity for New Partners

Adopting net-zero policies doesn’t only provide great storytelling opportunities; it also offers SMEs the chance to partner with similar businesses and organizations. By showing a dedication to sustainability, SMEs can draw in partners who share the same values and goals. These partnerships can lead to new business opportunities and joint sustainability projects. The Green Tech case study below serves as an excellent example.

Overcoming Challenges and Barriers to Net-Zero for SMEs

Having established the benefits SMEs can gain from adopting net-zero as a strategy, it’s important to balance the picture and discuss the challenges, which can be loosely categorized into two groups: operational and analytical.

SMEs Operational Challenges to Sustainability

The most obvious challenges SMEs face on their journey to becoming net-zero are the lack of resources and expertise needed to implement sustainable practices and the limitations of budgets and cash flow that prevent the initial investments required in renewable energy, energy-efficient technologies, etc.

Thankfully, many jurisdictions offer SMEs bridging loans and grants specifically designed to help overcome these challenges. If you’re considering becoming net-zero, it’s well worth looking into what types of support are offered in your area.

SMEs Analytical Challenges to Sustainability

A further challenge SMEs face when opting to go green is determining their carbon footprint across their entire supply chain. Most SMEs lack the tools and knowledge needed to accurately track their emissions and are therefore unable to set meaningful reduction targets. Without these targets, it’s impossible for SMEs to determine the scope of effort required to become truly net-zero. Regulatory barriers and market uncertainties complicate the picture even further.

Here again, support exists for those who need it. Local and national trade associations, advocacy groups, and government agencies often provide guidelines for businesses on how to correctly calculate emissions. A good place to start is the Verra Project Methodologies listed below in the appendix. Private sector consultancies such as Carbon Credit Capital are also available to provide these calculations as a service.

Conclusion – Embracing Net-Zero: The SME’s Pathway to Success

The journey to reach net-zero by 2030 brings both challenges and opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). This transition is not just about being environmentally responsible; it can also improve brand image, build consumer trust, and help businesses stand out in the market. Case studies like BrewDog and Riverford show that sharing sustainability efforts can boost customer loyalty and attract new eco-conscious clients. Additionally, frameworks from organizations like Verra and consultancies like Carbon Credit Capital help SMEs measure their carbon footprints, plan their sustainability journeys, and certify their emission reduction projects once completed. Contact us today to learn more.

Appendix – Introducing the Verra Project Methodologies

Verra’s project methodologies are the set of rules and guidelines used for creating and approving projects under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program. These guidelines ensure projects follow the correct steps to produce real reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals. They also ensure projects can issue Verified Carbon Units (VCUs).

Each methodology has specific requirements and guidelines, so SMEs should carefully evaluate which methodology aligns best with their project goals and circumstances. Below are some of the most commonly used methodologies for reference:

Agricultural Sector SMEs

  • Climate-Smart Agriculture: This methodology is relevant for SMEs in the agricultural sector seeking to reduce emissions, enhance resilience to climate change, and improve productivity and livelihoods.
  • Agriculture Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU): This methodology is relevant for SMEs in sustainable agriculture, reforestation, and land use practices.
  • Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+): This methodology is relevant for SMEs in forest conservation and/or involved in activities where deforestation is a concern. It also includes components related to renewable energy and efficiency.

Energy Sector SMEs

  • Energy Efficiency: SMEs can implement energy-efficient technologies and practices to reduce emissions and potentially generate carbon credits.
  • Renewable Energy: SMEs in the energy sector can consider implementing renewable energy projects and exploring options for certifying emission reductions through relevant standards.   


By adopting these methodologies, SMEs can ensure their projects meet high standards for sustainability, thereby gaining credibility and trust in the eyes of consumers and partners.