3 levers to help businesses promote sustainable consumption

Sustainable consumption is an essential part of sustainable development and is cementing itself as a deep-rooted trend. More and more French, wanting to make their lives more meaningful, are changing their buying habits and choosing less-polluting, ethical, local and organic products (2016 GreenFlex sustainable consumption study).
On the other end of the spectrum, either out of lassitude or lack of means, customers unconcerned by environmental issues are increasingly apathetic. This ‘ecological divide’ is occurring at a time of unprecedented mistrust towards businesses; never has the level of trust been so low (26%). But yet, 90% of French people believe that companies have a role to play in sustainable development.
Here are GreenFlex’s 3 levers for action to help businesses transform their sustainable consumption challenges into new opportunities and advance towards a Good Future.

1. Adapt the product range

Customers want more sustainable, fair and healthy products. The thriving success of organic and fair-trade products is the proof: consumers are willing to pay more for products featuring these social and environmental characteristics.
More demanding regarding quality, the French are also demanding on the transparency of manufacturing conditions. The origin of raw materials, the manufacturing site, the impact on biodiversity and employment, production conditions and the wage share have become important factors in the buying decision. Today, they expect companies to provide reliable, unbiased and comprehensive environmental information on the packaging.

2. Communication: a major lever to pull

Unconcerned consumers will be willing to change their habits if, beyond purely ecological discourse, they perceive a tangible benefit. Businesses must conduct communications that promote the advantages of sustainable consumption for health and well-being, the main worries for French citizens.
Many do not follow eco-friendly lives (preventing food waste, recycling, circular economy, etc.). Companies can encourage changes in these habits by supporting and promoting the benefits of these eco-friendly efforts.
Attempts to save money also influence consumer habits. Local consumption, ‘do-it-yourself’ and sharing/donation platforms are also practices that should be promoted to encourage people to consumer less, and better.

3. Internal and external initiatives

Through socially responsible actions, businesses have the power to awaken public conscience. Social media is a precious means to share and communicate these efforts, and the results obtained.
By mediatising their own sustainable purchasing policy (eco-design, social economy, etc.) as well as the sustainable purchasing practices of their consumers, they encourage collective action and foster reciprocity.
To gain credibility, legitimate their sustainable development expertise and inspire sustainable habits, companies must commit to sustainable development initiatives and promote their efforts.