We’re excited to announce that New Seasons Market is a Loyalty 360 Award finalist in the category of Social Impact and Corporate Social Responsibility! The awards will feature brands who have been nominated for their work across 15 categories; winners will be announced at the Awards Expo on October 27. Read an excerpt from the nomination below to learn more about New Seasons’ Neighbor Rewards loyalty program and Gift It! campaign, as well as the extensive work they do to improve our planet and the lives of all of us who live here.
Describe the company, strategy or initiative you are nominating in the category of Social Impact and Corporate Social Responsibility.
Founded in 2000, New Seasons Market is a Portland-based grocer with 19 grocery stores across the Pacific Northwest with more openings planned in the coming year. As the world’s first B Corp certified grocer, New Seasons is a pioneer of sustainable business and progressive employment practices, and maintains a strong commitment to serving local communities.
Clutch is submitting the New Seasons Gift It! Campaign for consideration in the Social Impact and Corporate Social Responsibility category. As part of New Seasons’ loyalty program, Gift It! underscores a commitment to local communities and customers.
Clutch powers the New Seasons loyalty program and Gift It! campaign using a flexible reward currency model to facilitate the use of member rewards for charitable donations as described below.
Neighbor Rewards + Gift It!
Launched in early 2019, Neighbor Rewards is New Seasons’ loyalty program, focused on enriching the lives of customers and cultivating long-term relationships through relevant experiences and engagement, while bringing the community together.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many people were looking for ways to help those in need, but fear of contagion and mandatory quarantine made it difficult to know what to do. New Seasons’ mission is to support the local community, and in April 2020, they swiftly implemented a new feature to their Loyalty program that did just that.
The Gift It! program lets customers give their Loyalty rewards dollars to a local community partner or non-profit instead of redeeming them at their next visit. The initial response to the campaign at the start of the pandemic was huge, and momentum continues to this day. The success of the campaign illustrates how well New Seasons understands their shoppers and their personal motivations, underscoring their commitment to the communities they serve.
What makes the brand and their initiatives award-worthy?
New Seasons Market uses their business as a force for good. They donate 10-percent of after-tax profits to more than 1,000 local organizations supporting hunger relief, education and protecting the environment. New Seasons also donates to local nonprofits when customers shop with reusables and to prevent waste, food is redirected to local recovery partners, ensuring resources to those who need it most. Inspect any facet of their operations and you will see that every practice— from sourcing products and packaging, to hiring and workplace policies—is grounded in their value to “Do the right thing, Always.”
The Gift It! campaign is but one example that shows how New Seasons promotes a genuine investment in the planet, their people and the communities they serve. The objective for the campaign is not sales, acquisition or brand awareness, but by doing the right thing. They want people to trust them to be a good steward of the community and to do right by the people who live there. Knowing the pandemic introduced obstacles for many people to receive assistance, they mobilized their loyalty members to act.
Gift It! continues to positively impact people in need and has been one of their most popular campaigns to date. The success metrics show that aligning corporate values with customer values is the most powerful way to achieve change.
Describe the brand’s corporate social responsibility strategy and initiatives, program goals and how they help build customer loyalty.
A selection of New Seasons’ corporate social responsibility initiatives is detailed below. They continue to add initiatives and measure their impact, detailing successes in and Impact Metrics published annually. New Seasons Market was recognized as an EPA Green Power Partnership Top 30 Retailer in 2019 and 2020.
The overarching goal of each initiative is to put social responsibility into action and involve their customers in this work to expand the impact. The shared experience of a brand and its customers working together to achieve a singular vision is an incredibly powerful motivator of customer loyalty. While customer loyalty is not the initial goal, it is a consistent and reliable outcome of the many initiatives supported by the organization. New Seasons retained 95% of their most valuable customers during the pandemic.
- Elimination of Single Use Plastic Bottles: Sales of still water in capacities of one liter or less and bottled in single-use plastic, fiber, aluminum or glass containers were discontinued in April 2021, preventing more than 250,000 single-use bottles from entering the waste stream annually.
- Waste Reduction: Reducing waste is very important to New Seasons, their customers and for the planet. They have worked to reduce their operational waste footprint and are making progress reducing product packaging company-wide, including significant single-use packaging reductions in our produce departments, bakeries and delis.
- In 2020: 52% landfill diversion rate
- Reusable Bag Donations: The reusable bag donation programs allow customers to keep or donate 5 cents every time they use a reusable shopping bag when shopping.
- In 2020: $200,751 in reusable bag donations to nonprofits in local communities.
- Community Service: All employees are given 8 paid hours annually to participate in community service with a nonprofit of their choice
- In 2020: 574 paid volunteer hours served local communities
- Pay Program: Since founding, New Seasons has worked to offer employee pay that exceeds living wage. They use MIT’s living wage calculator to determine the local wage that allows residents to meet the minimum standards of living and work hard to offer pay that is above that amount.
- 2019: 23.6% above MIT’s living wage.
- 2020: 22% above MIT’s living wage.
- The New Seasons Loyalty Program, Neighbor Rewards, offers environmental incentives, including e-receipts and bonus points for using reusables in our stores. Bringing in a reusable water bottle, coffee cup, bag, or use GO Box earns 10 points per visit.
- Customer Donations to Hunger Relief: Throughout the year, New Seasons hosts campaigns with funding drives at the register and through the Gift It! program to encourage customers to provide support to hunger relief organizations in our communities
- In 2020: $292,558 in total donations
- As a partner of Portland’s own GO Box, New Seasons currently offers reusable takeout containers in all Portland area stores. With GO Box, customers can take their food in reusable to-go boxes and drop the containers back off for washing and reuse.
- Partner Brand Products Regionally Sourced: The Partner Brand private label program is all about keeping it local, which means from within 500 miles. For this program, New Seasons works with small producers who cultivate and craft quality products. 1% of each Partner Brand sale goes directly into their mission-based Partner Fund loan program.
- 2020: 82% of Partner Brand Products are Regionally Sourced
- As part of an ongoing commitment to their communities, every store partners with a local organization that helps eliminate hunger. Each year, they hold a Hunger Match weekend event where they match the first $1,000 donated at each of our stores.z
- 100% of electricity was purchased through Renewable Energy Credit in 2020, avoiding 1,293 pounds of carbon emissions, or the equivalent of removing 400 cars from the road annually!
- The GreenWheels sustainable vendor delivery program partners with Portland’s own B-line Urban Delivery to deliver products from small local producers by electric bike. In 2018 alone, NSM saved vendors 11,800 individual trips to our stores, avoiding 319,495 pounds of carbon emissions
How do the brand’s corporate social responsibility initiatives demonstrate an innovative approach? List ways in which the strategy or initiative is new, creative, original, forward-thinking, measurable and provides a competitive advantage.
Rather than focusing on profits, New Seasons simply focuses on social responsibility. Their strategy is innovative and effective, setting them apart from other grocers and from other brands in general. They were founded on a strong belief system and a desire to grow awareness about that belief system. They are working to attract people who feel the same, or are willing to change their mindset, and this is a powerful – and creative – strategy for growing a successful business.
According to New Seasons’ CEO, Nancy Lebold, “You’re going to see us building relationships with our customers that are not purely transactional. It’s more about an experience, a feeling, and a connection.” Lebold adds, “When you ask New Season Market customers why they like shopping with us, one of the number one reasons is this connection that they have in our stores. Cooking classes in the stores are fine. But what about signing up for a field trip with your kids to go see where your favorite goat cheese is made in Dundee, Oregon?”
The company works to drive home concepts like sourcing locally and supporting local farmers, involving customers and their family and friends in experiences that are educational, fun and impactful. While frequency and spend are important metrics for all grocers, New Seasons thinks differently, and it’s helped them further their mission while growing a successful business.
In summary, as demonstrated by New Seasons and over 3,500 other B Corporations out there, it’s not just about sales of products. It’s about using the business as a platform for good and using technology to unify people with similar values to creating a kinder, cleaner more equitable world.