Gone are the days when being sustainable was optional. Today’s consumers are more environmentally conscious than ever before, and many are now basing buying decisions on the green credentials of the products and brands they love. Instead of losing out on these shoppers, how can your business view this audience as an opportunity for growth?
CONSUMERS ARE EMBRACING SUSTAINABILITY
Deloitte’s annual sustainability study has proven that we’re seeing a sharp increase in the number of people who have adopted a more sustainable lifestyle in recent years.* Consumers are making more ethical buying decisions across all types of purchases, from food (where they’re choosing to buy more local or seasonal produce, or limiting meat consumption) to household items and beauty products (where they prefer to avoid single-use plastic and choose brands that have ethical practices and values).
3 out of 5 consumers say socially responsible or sustainable products made up at least half of their last purchase**, and half of consumers say they’ve paid a premium (59% more!) for products branded as sustainable or socially responsible in the last 12 months.
What does ‘green’ mean to consumers?
A DEEP DIVE ON REDUCING CARBON FOOTPRINT
It’s no wonder that a reduction in emissions is key to our consumers’ perceptions of green. Organisations’ supply chains often account for more than 90% of their greenhouse gas emissions! *** A study by the CDP suggests that supply chain emissions are, on average, 5.5 times greater than a company’s own direct emissions.† This is even higher in sectors such as retail (11.5 times greater), personal and household goods (19 times) and food and beverages (24 times).
BUSINESSES KNOW SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE… BUT ARE THEY DOING IT?
As organisations, we’d all like to think we’re doing everything we can for the planet. Recent IBV research found that 39% of executives said that environmental sustainability is a top priority. ** But, while 86% of organisations have a sustainability strategy, only 35% have actually acted on that strategy. There are definite gains to be won by any company that closes the gap between ideas and action.
GREEN SPOTLIGHT: ADIDAS
One early-adopter that fully embraced their green strategy is Adidas. Back in 2008, Adidas introduced their ‘Green Company’ programme and set targets to minimise water, waste and energy consumption by 2020. Through continuous improvement of 95 Adidas facilities, energy-saving initiatives, employee training, eliminating single-use plastics and embedding green into their company culture, they achieved (and even exceeded) their targets. They report a 55% reduction in carbon emissions, a 50% reduction in waste and 48% in water usage.
On why green really matters, CIO Andreas Hubert says,
“Sustainability is part of a holistic purchase decision criteria for consumers. About 80% of our consumers expect companies like us to provide sustainable solutions at scale. We need to think about how we deliver products, and all the reverse logistics to reuse and recycle them… People stay with us because they can live their passion for sport, and contribute to make this a better planet for us and the next generations.”
WHAT CAN YOUR BUSINESS DO?
If you’d like to attract more conscientious consumers, and retain those you already have, there are some simple first steps you can take:
- Look at your supply chain: We know emissions are key to consumers and that supply chain emissions make up a huge proportion. Think about your plans for a carbon neutral supply chain and how you can use partners who can help reduce or offset your emissions.
- Take a look at your existing suppliers’ credentials: Look at the green credentials of the partners and suppliers you’re currently working with, and take a look at their competitors’ credentials, so you can choose those who are prioritising environmental practices. Find out more about DHL Group´s sustainability strategy.
- Think about a greener last mile: Though much of your supply chain may feel (or actually be!) outside of your control, your last mile is more visible to your customer and therefore critically important to their perception. Make sure your last mile delivery partner is offering green options. See what changes DHL Parcel UK is making for sustainable growth.
- Communicate your sustainability plans transparently: Publish a report explaining where you are on your green journey at the moment, where you’re going, and how you plan to get there.
If you want to monopolise on a consumer base increasingly excited about green options, then you’ll need to make a plan, develop some targets, pick the right partners, communicate your strategy – and make sure to follow through with it.
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