FORCES OF CHANGE ARE DRIVING SUSTAINABILITY’S MOMENTUM
A new era of sustainability is rising and it’s touching every corner of the world. Driven in part by consumers, governments, corporations and the growing visible effects of pollution, sustainability initiatives are becoming more ubiquitous, more aggressive, and more expected. Looking for a better lifestyle, consumers are searching for options that are healthier for them and for their homes. The good news is that companies can be benevolent and bankable if they understand the intricacies of these forces and react accordingly.
The challenge is this: sustainability is a broad, all-encompassing term and it’s often difficult to know where to start. This report highlights what consumers care about when it comes to sustainability, the biggest growth opportunities for manufacturers and the differences among consumer sentiments across markets. We will also highlight the forces of change moving this mega trend forward: the environmental challenges impacting people around the world and how governments and corporations are responding. Then we’ll provide strategies for companies that hope to succeed in the continuously evolving sustainability space.
GET WITH THE PROGRAM: CONSUMERS DEMAND SUSTAINABILITY
In a recent global online survey, a whopping 81% of global respondents feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment. This passion for corporate responsibility is shared across gender lines and generations. Millennials, Gen Z and Gen X are the most supportive, but their older counterparts aren’t far behind.
WHO’S MOST ENTHUSIASTIC FOR COMPANY-DRIVEN ENVIRONMENTALISM?
Emerging market consumers, many of whom are dealing with environmental hazards in their everyday lives. In search of better solutions, it’s no surprise that these consumers are more demanding of companies.
“Facing rapid urbanization and a growing disparity between classes, many people in emerging markets are experiencing the harsh reality of pollution in this post-modern industrial age. As a result, sustainability has become an urgent opportunity for companies to connect with consumers who are excited about change.” said Regan Leggett, Executive Director, Thought Leadership and Foresight, Global Markets.
This opportunity hasn’t gone unnoticed, and the strategies employed by corporations to date have been influential in driving sustainability forward.
THE EVOLVING APPROACH TO CORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY
From pledging to eliminate single-use plastics to using artificial intelligence to build greener production processes, companies large and small are feeling the pressure from consumers and governments to be both reactive and proactive in their sustainability strategy.
This notion of corporate sustainability isn’t new for many companies, particularly global multi-nationals, but it’s both evolved and gained steam in the last four to five years.
“What’s growing is the boldness of the marketing messages and the commitments that brands are willing to take. We’re seeing a bigger trend towards ‘visible and emotional sustainability’— brands taking a stance on social and political issues and making major commitments to eliminate waste. At the most extreme end, we see brands being personified—being referenced as ‘brave brands’ or ‘hero brands,” said Crystal Barnes, SVP, Global Responsibility & Sustainability
In the public eye retail and manufacturing industries are collaborating with governments to make major commitments to reduce waste — particularly single-use plastics. Adjacent industries such as fast-food, restaurants and food delivery organizations are also jumping on the bandwagon — rolling out plans to curb plastic by eliminating utensils or straws to coordinating with local service organizations to ensure un-purchased food goes to underserved communities.
Here are just a few strategies companies are taking today:
The more companies embrace sustainability, the more they change the product and retail landscape. Consumers are constantly reacting to and evolving in this space, growing more sophisticated. In order to stay relevant, companies will need to ensure they are putting consumer needs at the center and doubling down on their marketing and execution strategies.