Will consumers pay for sustainability?

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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”.