+ March 26, 2020
Sustainability has been a topic surrounding business for many years and the conversation continues to this day. As consumers become more aware of ways in which their purchases and activity impacts the world around them, they have made many cautionary shifts. In short terms sustainability involves three central aspects, these being social, economic and environmental. At present environmental aspects have received the highest amount of consideration. The more educated consumers become in sustainability practices the more pressure businesses are put under to cater to these increasing needs. As a result of this, many businesses have set new reduction goals and industry standards are currently centred around Science-Based Targets.
Continuous technological advancements have been a catalyst as well as aid to the whole sustainability initiative. The fast-paced environment has had businesses racing to ensure they have the access to the most recent technology and innovations. Keeping up to date with sustainability initiatives and increasing any associated spend have become essential elements of current business practices due to its immense power over buyer behaviour. The concept is largely being used as part of the promotion process in order to increase overall consumer engagement and retain or receive market share. For example, IKEA dedicated an entire promotional video to sustainable living and how they have personally approached it.
Warwick Business School professor, Frederik Dahlmann, warns companies not to ignore the pressing sustainability issues. He suggests that the potential result of such neglect could be a largely reduced ability to retain customers and employees who essentially are the key to their survival or success. The most common action being taken to tackle sustainability is, as previously mentioned, increased expenditure on sustainability.
So, what exactly is sustainability?
There are various ways to define the concept, but let’s look at it briefly. It is a notion that involves a long-term vision and aims to sufficiently meet present needs without compromising our competencies to meet the needs of our future generations.
Next question. What can I do? Here are some important statistics you should know and actions to take in order to stay in the game:
- One third of all food goes to waste whilst almost 800 million people live without sufficient levels of food
- EU inhabitants individually produced 5 tonnes of waste in 2016
- Market value can be increased by 4-6% when effective CSR strategies are implemented
- Almost 80% of surveyed consumers stated that they would refuse to do business with companies who had conflicting beliefs to their own
- Female consumers aged 16-24 would appreciate brands using eco-friendly fabrics
- 9500 companies have openly joined the UN Global Compact in support of the UN sustainability goals
What you can do:
Pay attention to the process – There are many practices involved within every business and therefore there are various opportunities for you to introduce new and effective ways of undertaking each step. Consumers are paying attention to details and so only having one sustainable method, e.g. your production, can be a cause for concern. Take a closer look at your packaging and distribution channels for example and find ways of implementing sustainability at each possible stage.
Awareness is everything – People want to know how you are doing your part for the environment, economy and society so do your best to show this. Common practice for this is creating a dedicated section to sustainability on your company website or business page and posting updates on present and new initiatives.
Decrease disposables – The appeal of reusable products has inevitably increased and so, where possible, decrease your use or distribution of these items. Consumers are willing to pay a premium for quality products that are sustainable and will reduce any negative impacts they can individually cause.