At the World Economic FOrum Annual Meeting 2012 in Davos-Klosters, business leaders provided the direction that, to achieve sustainable consumption, business must engage consumers by redesigning products and services, reshaping demand, and leveraging innovative communications to drive transparency and engagement.
Engaging Tomorrow’s Consumer: Understanding how to change attitudes and behavior around sustainability, while creating business value
Introducing the Positive Change Effie Awards: The Engaging Tomorrow’s Consumer project has just reached an important milestone: the project catalysed a sustainability-focused award with Effie Worldwide Inc. called “Positive Change” which was launched on Earth Day (Press release). This new Effie award is the outcome of one of the workstreams of the project “Engage Marketers” and builds on the insight that marketers are not incentivized to embed sustainability in their brands. The aim of this new award is to influence marketers to drive consumers toward more sustainable choices.
Since 2009, the Forum and its partners have been researching the challenges and opportunities presented by Sustainable Consumption. What we’ve learned along the way paints a very harsh picture. Our consumption patterns outstrip available resources and have significant negative impacts on our planet. Whether it is higher temperatures, severe weather, or unprecedented pollution, the evidence cannot be ignored.
Global middle class will grow by 3 billion people in the next 30 years, all wanting to mimic the Western lifestyle of conspicuous consumption. If we are to adequately address the global challenges, driving consumer demand for sustainable lifestyles needs to be our focus, and businesses that take a leadership position and successfully engage the consumer in sustainability will gain competitive advantage.
Business leaders worldwide recognize that changing consumer attitudes and behavior around sustainability within a rapidly evolving marketplace presents considerable challenges. In 2012, the World Economic Forum and its Partner companies began to address this challenge by researching the key question “How can companies engage consumers to trigger simple behavioral shifts that enable more sustainable lifestyles, grow demand for more sustainable products and create business value?”
Landscaping research over 2012 revealed three key findings:
- Sustainability needs a makeover: The word “sustainability” does not mean anything. It is too broad, too nebulous. The language around the topic is also worthy of a makeover. We need to move away from the current language of sacrifice and “you must” to a more positive, inspirational, and aspirational tone.
- Millenials are the opportunity: Millennials, particularly urban, middle-class, Asian millennials have both the numbers and the attitudes to make real change a possibility. Unlike millennials in the West, who often think that the world no longer has a sustainability problem, Asian millennials experience extreme pollution and waste on a daily basis. They are motivated to make a difference.
- Companies can use different strategies to seize the consumer opportunity and enable sustainable lifestyles: There are six strategies that companies can use to seize the consumer opportunity and enable sustainable lifestyles.
i) Build the consumer case
ii) Engage marketers
iii) Integrate sustainability into R&D
iv) Leverage social media for consumer collaboration
v) Activate employee advocates
vi) Set targets and quantify outcomes
In 2013, responding to the mandate of business leaders’ call to action, the Forum and its Partner companies collaborated to explore the following three initiatives:
Engage Marketers - To incentivize brand marketers to embed sustainability in their marketing campaigns.
Build the Consumer Case - To understand what language will motivate millennial consumers to engage in sustainable lifestyles.
Digital Platform for Consumer Collaboration - To create a non-branded, collaborative social media platform that will raise awareness and engagement of millennial consumers around sustainable consumption.
Please click here to view the 2013 Report for Engaging Tomorrow’s Consumer
In 2014, the Forum will take forward two workstreams:
- New Effie Sustainability Award “Positive Change”:
This corporate focused award will recognize and learn from the most effective marketing campaigns that have measurably shifted consumer behavior towards sustainable choices, and/or grown demand for more sustainable offerings.
- Collaborative Digital Platform “Future Awesome”:
This millennial-focused initiative will be a content platform with the sole aim of changing the way the millennial generation thinks and acts about sustainability, and will use entertaining content as the vehicle to educate and inspire millennials to positively shape the future.
There are ongoing activities for the two workstreams -
- Building support and excitement for “Positive Change”, the new Effie sustainability award through CEO/CMO endorsement, mid-level brand marketers engagement, and celebrity and key sustainability figures’ advocacy
- Building profile of the award through workshops and presentation of winning case studies.
- Click here to access the press release for further information
- Cross-sector company collaboration to launch and govern the new digital platform
- Reaching out to millennials through the platform, to establish a long-term relationship that helps educate and inspire them towards a future we want to live in.
Click here to view the 2014 Report for Engaging Tomorrow’s Consumer
The project is lead by global partner companies of the World Economic Forum from across different sectors. These companies provide strategic direction and ongoing oversight to two initiatives. The companies include:
Aegis Media, BT Group Plc, Carlsberg A/S, The Coca-Cola Company, Henkel AG & Co. KGaA, Lenovo, Marks & Spencer Plc, Nielsen, Unilever, WPP Plc and Vice Media Inc.
- Video: Engaging tomorrow's consumer
- 2014 Report: Engaging Tomorrow’s Consumer
- 2013 Report: Engaging Tomorrow’s Consumer
- Engaging Tomorrow’s Consumer Executive Summary
- What would make you change the way you shop?
- Why marketing matters more than you think