A. How organizations influence customers
Brands need to rethink what and how they communicate with customers across interaction points, including before and after purchase.
At a minimum, sustainability needs to be intuitive at the point of decision making. For example, by supplying standard measures to enable people to easily understand what the “right” decision is, like Foundation Earth’s3
eco-label on packaging. Clarity is also important to ensure that you don’t need to be a climate scientist to make a better decision, and that the decision is authentically better, without hidden negative consequences. Brands also need to provide context: people need a point of reference for what “good” looks like—Ecolytiq4
do this by helping customers to compare their carbon footprint to the average citizen. In our research, we found that showing participants the carbon emissions of their grocery shop compared to other similar people encouraged many to reflect on their consumption habits.
B. The products and services that organizations offer
Organizations should embed sustainability into product development and service design without always leading with sustainability. They can do this through business model innovation: for example, offering a proposition that helps customers save money (such as clothing rental) with sustainability as a secondary benefit. In addition, the value proposition must be right: quality, efficacy and convenience must not be compromised in favour of sustainability and, just like any decent marketing strategy, brands should adapt the proposition of their products and services to audiences and culture in ways that resonate with them.
C. The way organizations engage with people, partners and regulators
To break the stalemate, organizations also need to become more proactive and intentional about who and how they engage. From a customer perspective, this means immersing themselves in the complexity of people’s relationships with sustainable decision-making—in particular, the trade-offs. From a collaboration perspective, organizations need to collaborate with more partners and competitors to drive changes in non-competitive and competitive spaces that will benefit everyone, like how Foundation Earth’s eco-label brings together major retail companies. And finally, using these partnerships, businesses can actively work to create the operating environments and expectations needed for sustainability to become the default. For example, multiple companies have been pushing for the EU to end petrol and diesel car sales by 20356