In case you missed it…
Last month we shared some insight from Alex Milinazzo, a Mintel trends analyst, in which we explored greenwashing, the benefit of making sustainable innovations simple, and how sustainability has shifted in the context of COVID-19.
In this article, we dive deeper into how sustainability trends are going to shape the future of business and the importance of innovation for brands to elevate the consumer experience.
Pressure for Action in the Sustainability Space
In the sustainability space, there’s a lot of pressure for brands to act right now.
There are many things that consumers can do to support sustainability on an individual level, but big shifts need to happen at the company and brand level.
Alex explained, “it’s most expensive for consumers to change their behaviors on their own.” Consumers will be more likely to make a sustainable choice if brands can make that decision more effortless for them.
While sustainability is still a decision-maker for consumers, price and convenience are still the top two. Today, the sustainable option isn’t usually the cheapest or the most convenient one. In order to drive consumers to make the most sustainable choice, brands must make that choice the most cost-effective and convenient one. Consumers will be looking for brands to find innovative ways to make sustainable choices cheaper and convenient.
Basically, if the brands take action, the consumers will follow.
Sustainability Trends Gaining Traction
Trends that are gaining popularity and will continue to grow in 2021 and beyond include buying second-hand, renting vs. owning, and consumers opting to buy from brands that are carbon neutral or carbon positive.
Another trend that will flourish in 2021 according to Alex is brands incorporating “sustainability as a part of their image and as a core element of their brand.” Sustainability practices aren’t just going to be sent out to shareholders anymore. For many brands, it will be a part of their image and will relate back to their core mission and values.
With sustainability becoming an increasing focal point in brands’ values, consumers will be expecting accountability.
Many companies have set goals for 2025 having to do with moving towards carbon neutrality and reducing their waste, among other sustainable goals. Brands will be expected to report on their progress of these goals and be transparent about what they do and don’t accomplish.
Between 2025 and now, brands will be publicizing their progress, as well as educating consumers on the meaning behind their sustainable changes. Alex explained, “as companies shift to more ambitious sustainable practices, they are going to be educating their consumers on what they’re doing really means.”
Education will be monumental in the sustainability space as it will explain the purpose of what brands are doing, as well as become an effective marketing tactic for the company. The idea behind brands educating customers on their sustainability efforts is for consumers to pressure other companies to follow suit. As a result, education on a brand’s efforts towards sustainability will become not only an expectation, but a standard.
In the wise words of Simon Sinek, brands and companies will be shifting to focusing on their why, why they do what they do and what their values are
Elevating the Consumer Experience through Innovation
In the next few years, we can expect a lot of exciting development in the sustainability space.
Consumers will be given the tools and resources to grow foods in their own homes. Foods and herbs will be grown more inside grocery stores in order to both reduce companies’ carbon footprints and provide the freshest produce possible. Companies will be looking to use more recycled materials, less plastic, less harmful chemicals, and cutting down on waste wherever possible.
As sustainability trends will continue to evolve, Alex says, “it’s not just about taking things away: taking plastic away, taking carbon away, but about how can you elevate the consumer experience that says we’re more sustainable and your experience with this brand is actually more seamless, is actually more innovative, is actually more valuable.”