Z Energy continues its sustainability push

Z Energy is driving home its sustainability message with two new spots that draw attention to some of the initiatives it’s currently rolling out.

The first clip references the company’s plans to build a biodiesel plant, which will require an investment of over $26 million over the next few years.   

Why build NZ’s first large-scale biodiesel plant? Because giant strides start with small steps.

Posted by Z Energy on Saturday, 6 February 2016

Not all sustainability efforts require millions of dollars in investment. And the second clip shows the company is also taking the smaller step of composting coffee beans and rolling out compostable coffee cups. 

Why do we give you coffee grinds for your compost? Because giant strides start with small steps.

Posted by Z Energy on Tuesday, 9 February 2016


These spots come as part of Z Energy’s major brand repositioning, which was announced earlier this year. 

As part of the revamp, the company plans to place additional emphasis on sustainability, community building projects, retail consumer experiences and commercial consumer partnerships.

In a recent interview with Stuff, Z Energy’s sustainability manager Gerri Ward explained that the company is particularly committed to pushing sustainability because of its important to the emerging category of millennial consumers. 

“Millennials put more value on sustainable service,” she told the Fairfax-owned publication. “They’ve never lived in a world without recycling or without climate change. They wouldn’t talk about sustainability being a niche area, it’s part of the way they live their lives and an unquestionable part of the future.”

And for the company to remain relevant to these consumers as their spending power increases over time, it needs to ensure that its business practices resonate with their views on corporate responsibility.  

Previous story published 2 February: Z Energy makes further pledges to Kiwis as it redefines its purpose 

Around four years after revamping its brand, Z Energy has released a campaign, via Assignement Group and Robber’s Dog, that touches on the four concepts integral to the brand.

“This is the biggest refresh of the brand since it was re-launched in 2012,” says Z Energy corporate communications and investor relations manager Jonathan Hill.

Z is for New Zealand, and we reckon giant strides start with small steps… so let’s go!

Posted by Z Energy on Monday, 1 February 2016

He says Z Energy is attempting to show consumers that it is committed to improving its sustainability, community building projects, retail consumer experiences and commercial consumer partnerships (Z elaborates on these core tenets with content on its website).

In many ways, Z Energy is formalising an approach that has already been in the works for quite some time. 

At least some of these principles have already been evident on the community side with the ongoing ‘Good in the Hood’ campaign and on the retail side with the rollout of a host of additional services requested by customers.

In addition to this, the new campaign also alludes to a new sustainability push that will see Z Energy invest $26 million in Biodiesel over the next year. 

Hill explains that Z Energy is looking to lessen New Zealand’s dependence on fossil fuels by turning inedible tallow, a by-product of the New Zealand meat industry, into 20 million litres of biodiesel fuel per year. 

The aim is then to mix this fuel with 400 million litres of conventional fuel to develop what will be dubbed ‘Z B5 biodiesel’.    

“We want to give consumers the choice of using something that’s more environmentally friendly.”

Hill says Z Energy wants to think of itself as more of a transport energy company rather than petroleum provider. And Z is taking a further step in this direction by investing in six additional EV charging stations to be rolled out in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch by the end of February.   

In an official statement announcing the biodiesel initiative, Z Energy general manager of supply and distribution David Binnie said this was also an important play for Z Energy’s commercial partner Fonterra, which has lent its support to the cause. 

“What has enabled us to be bold enough to invest in this venture has been the commitment from some of our large commercial customers, such as Fonterra, who are trying to find ways to reduce their own carbon emissions,” Binnie said.   

“This is an example of New Zealand companies working together to make a difference to our own backyard.”

Given that the agriculture and petroleum industries don’t have the best track records when it comes to the environment, this does open the door to Z Energy (and by association, Fonterra) being slammed for feigning interest in sustainability to win over customer sentiment—and this certainly isn’t unusual among petrol companies.  

However, Hill says this isn’t the case. 

“We’re very conscious of being accused of greenwashing,” he says. 

He says the team at Z Energy could have spoken earlier about the sustainability measures at the company, but chose instead to wait until they had something concrete to show consumers. 

“Climate change is one of the most significant issues our consumers care about, and we want to show that we are with them on this.”

Asked whether Z Energy was concerned about Kiwis slamming the initiative, Hill says that they welcomed the criticism. 

“We want our community to engage with us.”

Until now, Z Energy has had a good track record of responding to the demands of its customers, rolling out longer hoses, introducing eftpos at checkout and giving to causes that they care about.

But making an environmental pledge is risky for the brand, and it could also prove costly. 

However, while this will invariably lead to short-term profit losses, shaping the business with sustainability as one of its core principles could be good for the company in the long run. 

This type of strategic thinking was also evident in 2011, when Tip Top made the commercially expensive decision to remove palm oil from all 150 variants of its ice cream. 

The brand could easily have stuck with the palm oil, but the Tip Top executives saw that this would’ve eventually led to the public turning on the product. 

There is also something to be said for having a clearly defined purpose (or four in Z Energy’s case).

Having a succinctly defined purpose is often one of the key reasons attributed to the success of many of the major brands in the world. 

For Apple that purpose is innovation; for Facebook it’s connecting people; and for Tesla it’s simply saving the world.

In a recent piece written for NZ Marketing magazine, Colenso BBDO creative chairman Nick Worthington touched on each of these examples, but then observed: “It’s not just having a purpose. Holy shit, you actually have to do stuff. Lots of stuff, and everyone has to be at it.”

As Z Energy’s new creative says: “giant strides start with small steps.” And if Z Energy is really interested in building its brand on these tenets, then its step counter app is undoubtedly going to tally up some high numbers over the next few years.   

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