In a recent 2 Degrees discussion forum on whether consumers will pay for sustainability, Chris Coulter@GlobeScan made an excellent strategic point:
“This is not so much about ‘will consumers pay for sustainability’ but more about how can companies committed to sustainable performance (at both the corporate and product level) leverage their investments to make them more relevant in the marketplace. This takes us out of the more linear debate about what attributes matter most (price, quality vs. environment, sourcing, etc..) and into how these various attributes blend together in a meaningful way for customers. How can environmental integrity best reinforce primary purchasing drivers related to quality, for instance? Once this framework is applied, wonderful opportunities are uncovered that not only reinforce sales and loyalty, but also allow for greater alignment across the enterprise.” Chris Coulter, GlobeScan
Chris has identified the strategic insight for business. Consumers increasing expect rather than demand sustainability. The opportunity is to package the sustainability in to the offering, to enhance value. ONCE A COMPANY IS RESPONDING to the “wonderful opportunities that sustainability uncovers…”, I would share three key insights with companies:
1. Consumers love their brands and want them to be ‘GOOD’. So tell them how good you are now and will be in the future.
2. Consumers are overwhelmed and don’t know who to trust. So strive for simplicity and get trusted intermediaries to share your message.
3. Consumers don’t want to be the exception. So, make sustainable the norm, and help consumers feel good and part of something bigger
It is about the company leveraging their investment in sustainability. But it is also about the consumer getting MORE than the price and quality they demand and experiencing some of the value from the sustainability they expect.
For more insights and actions, listen again to Rachael’s presentation on 2 degrees, entitled, “Translating sustainability to Customers and Consumers”.
Let’s share what Corporate Partnership Managers say about this, according to the Guardian Voluntary Sector Network. You can read the full article here.
- Look for a good fit
- Make it a win win
- Keep it fresh and creative
- Use networks to build contacts
- Build relationships
- Be passionate about your product and organisation
- Develop a plan that addresses a business’ strategic motivations
- Engage with employees throughout the business
- Find trusted advisors within the partnership (be it lawyers, accountants, bankers)
- Follow up and feedback.
Starting a project with some good social media listening, a solid piece of market insight and a piece of stakeholder research can give you the kind of insight that allows you to leap forwards. It takes time to go from information to insight, but it is worth it.
Here are some reports that are useful building blocks for insights in sustainability and behaviour change:
- DEFRA, Framework for Pro-Environmental Behaviours
- WBCSD, Sustainable Consumption Report, 2008
- Ethical Consumerism Report 2009, The Co-operative Bank
- Greendex 2010, National Geographic and GlobeScan
- Green Brands Survey, 2011, WPP
- CONE/ECHO Global CR Opportunity Study, 2011
- Raising the Bar – Building sustainable business value through environmental targets, The Carbon Trust, 2011
- Sustainability 2.0, Zumer, 2011
Research is also critical to evaluate performance, whether through surveys, social media evaluation or impact assessments. The critical thing is setting some effective Key Performance Indicators at beginning (or retrospectively if you are really moving fast!).
If you want to find out more about our insight and evaluation work, just say hello.
- Your team, whole and ready to participate
- A sample of your communications
- A sprinkling of your stakeholders
- A chunk of quality time
- Get under the skin of your cultural values.
- Analyse your communications and what they say about you
- Understand how you are perceived by stakeholders
- Boil down to some real INSIGHT.
- Serve up a unique and added value positioning on social and environmental issues
- Try it
- Cook up some creative to bring this to life over and over again.
An organisation well for 5 years (or 2-3 if you are a start up).