By Sandra Pedro, CMMP — Editor-in-Chief
Sustainability concepts continue to evolve across industries and sectors. Increasing consumers’ awareness of their influence is growing and driving positive changes in corporate behaviors and practices. Sustainability is becoming a consumer-centric strategy following consumer preferences and values.
Market studies show consumers are applying their spending habits to force the changes they want to see in the world. If you have a look on the Internet, reading comments in blogs and social networks, we easily find negative comments about products and brands that do not perform as they want. As I always mention in my classes, “don’t try to fool the consumers. Sooner or later they will realize you are not being serious and, when the time arrives, be ready to activate your communication crisis plan.”
Consumers look for better lifestyles and healthy choices in their lives. In many cases, companies are still trying to understand how businesses can perform in order to respond accordingly. Sustainability is a broad term and often difficult to know where to start. It is better to start with limited sustainability features complimenting business practices and then later includes a wider range for greater impact and enhanced outcomes.
Corporate responsibility and sustainability may mean different things for different industries and sectors. Resource conservation and tracking, minimizing environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks, and communicating results to stakeholders are all part of the sustainability journey for companies. Today, when building a corporate responsibility and sustainable approach, companies must understand what factors play a role in the consumers’ mind-set and how sustainability can be applied in their business and market strategies.
However, this is not enough anymore. Claims like “organic”, “natural” or “artificial-free” are becoming commonplace terms and consumers want to know more about their meaning. Understanding consumers’ eagerness for ethics, transparency and healthy choices for them and for the Planet and their evolving expectations is critical to building grounded sustainability roadmaps for every part of the business. There must also be open and transparent communication to address scepticism and consumer scrutiny about products and practices regarding businesses and the environment. These are all essential features for businesses to continue to advance in a sustainability landscape.
As people are more aware of the effects of their consuming habits, lifestyles and environmental pressures, companies and government will continue to feel the pressure to change and evolve. However, it may not be at the same pace as consumers and citizens do.