Businesses are facing increasing pressure to play a positive role in protecting the planet, not just from consumers, but also from governments, NGOs, and investors. According to a new report from market research provider Euromonitor International, the result is that sustainability is no longer a nice-to-have – it is a business imperative.
How to Become a Sustainable Brand highlights the mega trends that are shaping the future of sustainability and forcing businesses to take action – and outlines the steps companies can take to ensure sustainability success.
Rising activism: Activist groups such as Extinction Rebellion and the Fridays For Future movement are taking to the streets and putting the climate cause on the agenda like never before. Consequently, consumers are demanding more from the brands they work for and buy from. 21% of respondents to Euromonitor International’s Lifestyles Survey 2019 consider it a priority to work for companies that take their ethical and social responsibilities seriously.
Living with less: A throwaway culture and its impact on the environment are giving way to a new mantra of ‘living with less’, with consumers keen to make more responsible choices. According to Euromonitor International research, 36% of consumers aim to live a minimalist lifestyle and only buy new items when absolutely necessary, while 20% like to repair items rather than replace them.
I want to know more: Consumers and investors are demanding more transparent information from brands, and digital and smartphone connectivity is helping. Smartphones and social networks give consumers instant access to the information they need and are interested in, while empowering brands to promote their ethical initiatives and shape consumer opinion.
From knowledge to action: Leading brands are taking a proactive approach to sustainability. Denmark’s leading power producer Ørsted is an example of an organisation striving to be part of the solution; over the past ten years it has redefined its business by moving away from fossil fuels to become a renewable energy company.
Purpose over profit: Consumers are engaging with brands that go beyond short-term benefits and reflect their sustainability values. Some companies are leading with purpose over profit strategies, including Unilever’s Profit through Purpose and PepsiCo’s Performance with Purpose. Others have launched ‘net positive’ strategies that ensure a more resilient and regenerative world, such as IKEA’s People and Planet Positive approach.
According to Maria Coronado Robles, Senior Consultant, Euromonitor International, “Brands need to adapt to evolving sustainability trends, not only to protect their reputation, comply with legislation and achieve economic profit, but also to capitalise on new opportunities and increase long-term resilience and success.”
To help them make the changes required, the report highlights five key areas businesses should focus on for long-term success. These include: adopting a new kind of net-positive leadership, which means a business gives back more than it takes out; improving trust and transparency to enable customers to make more informed choices; switching to sustainable packaging, with “recyclability” the most trusted by consumers; embracing circularity such as by turning waste into a valuable resource; and working with partners to overcome complex sustainability challenges by sharing costs, resources and skills.
Read the full report to understand more about the trends and how businesses can best respond to them.