Former Deputy Supreme Commander of Europe, General Sir Richard Shirreff, recently spoke at the MRS Impact Conference discussing how strategic thinkers should respond to unpredictable events. Whilst his speech was focused on war and gender based violence, his message that “you can’t design strategy unless you understand the minds of the people, the environment and the landscape” relates especially well to us as market researchers.
What is Business Sustainability?
Sustainability in business is the management of a company’s financial, social, and environmental risks, obligations and opportunities (‘profits, people, and planet’, also referred to as the triple bottom line).
Business sustainability represents resilience over time, as businesses that effectively manage their ‘triple bottom line’ can survive shocks because they are connected to healthy economic, social, and environmental systems. In this way, a synergistic relationship is nurtured, as these businesses ultimately create economic value and contribute to these healthy ecosystems and communities of which they are a part.
What is Sustainable Development?
According to the World Council for Economic Development, sustainable development is ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. For example, for industrial development to be sustainable, it must address important issues at the macro level such as economic efficiency, social equity, and environmental accountability.
Best Practices for Sustainability
- Learning from customers, employees and surrounding communities, by engaging with stakeholders. Not just pushing out messages but understanding opposition and joint decision-making.
- Providing the structures and processes that help embed environmental efficiency into a firm’s culture and to mitigate risks by putting into place environmental management systems.
- Collecting and collating information for measurement and control, allowing the business to be entirely transparent.
- Systematically analysing the environmental and social impacts of the products they produce and use through life-cycle analysis. (Source: http://lexicon.ft.com/Term?term=business-sustainability)
What are the Benefits of Business Sustainability?
Investments in socially ethical practices may initially cost a business money, but beware of pressures from investors for short-term profits. The long term benefits out-weigh these costs, as sustainable businesses typically lead to enhanced recruitment, branding, and PR, leading to increased profitability.
Sustainable businesses attract and retain employees more easily and have less risks to their finances and reputation. These businesses are very adaptive to their environment and thus more innovative.
For example, O2 have launched their ‘Think Big’ Programme, which is a three year sustainability plan that promises to deliver up to four million tonnes of carbon savings and encourage and equip young people’s entrepreneurial skills by awarding young people grants to help them carry out their ideas within their local communities.
Proof of the growing importance of sustainability in business is 2degrees, the world’s leading collaboration platform and service for sustainable business, which has over 45,000 members from 178 countries.
The QRi Team x
As healthier lifestyles are becoming trendy, especially for Millennials, consumer trends against consumption of sugary foods, alcohol, and fatty foods are emerging. According to Channel 4, one in four British people aged 16-30 say they do not drink alcohol, compared with one in seven older people (60 and over). To facilitate this, new alcohol-free bars and yoga raves have been popping up in London and around the country. For example, Redemption, an alcohol-free bar whose slogan is ‘spoil yourself without spoiling yourself’, are expanding, now with three branches offering not just mocktails, but also ultra-healthy gastronomy, attracting people from many different dietary backgrounds.
There has also been a rise in special ultra-healthy diets, such as veganism, vegetarianism, and the paleo-diet, as well as an uptake in activities such as yoga, meditation, jogging, cycling, and niche activities like Zumba and Bikram yoga. These changes towards a cleaner lifestyle are reflected in the marketing strategies of products. Clear, simple labels, with few words and ingredients are more popular as they are seen as more transparent and trustworthy. Products linked to healthy activities, such as running or yoga, or simply being outside and active are also popular.
Millennials make up one third of the global population. Their tech-savvy and need to connect with people and products means that they have to be engaged through technology as they are less brand loyal than previous generations . Millennials are more entrepreneurial and ambitious than previous generations, with many of them expecting to own their own company, and wanting to have a positive impact on the world (see our previous blog Generation Z: #TheNewGeneration). It is important to engage with these instincts by being high-energy, connected, self-conscious and world-conscious, healthy and smart.
The QRi Team x
2 Robinson, N. (2014) Top five food and beverage trends for 2015. [online: http://www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/Supplements/Food-Ingredients-Health-Nutrition/Top-food-trends-for-2015]