Furthermore, researchers said 72% of respondents reported that they were actively buying more environmentally friendly products than they did five years ago, while 81% said they expected to buy even more over the next five years. We also recommend pilot A/B testing to determine which tactics work best. Buy local products. Adopting a sustainable behavior makes people apt to make other positive changes. Hope and pride can be particularly useful in driving sustainable consumption. Bacardi and Lonely Whale cultivate hope in their collaboration to eliminate one billion single-use plastic straws, and they use the hashtag #thefuturedoesntsuck to promote events and call for consumer action. Consider five approaches: use social influence, shape good habits, leverage the domino effect, decide whether to talk to the heart or the brain, and favor experiences over ownership. Paper was considered the most environmentally friendly by 55% of participants. Green Offices Are No Longer The Exception, They're... Green building has become the norm for the construction industry.... More than 80% of survey participants said they felt it was "important or extremely important" for companies to design environmentally conscious products. Given nine industries to select from, 1 in 4 respondents said they felt the chemical industry is the least concerned about the environment. With consumers being more environmentally conscious than ever, it’s no surprise that sustainability has become a familiar refrain in the fashion industry. The chemical industry is considered a major driver of recycled and reusable materials around the world. In the “experience economy,” companies offer experiential options as an alternative to material goods. And when people in one study were publicly praised each week for their energy-efficiency efforts, thus engendering pride, they saved more energy than a group that was given small (up to €5) weekly financial rewards. Social norms may also turn off certain consumer segments. But if a brand is already strongly associated with masculinity, this effect can be mitigated. Consumers—particularly Millennials—increasingly say they want brands that embrace purpose and sustainability. This also helps overcome the concern of some men that green products are feminine. Both Eileen Fisher and Patagonia encourage customers to buy high-quality pieces of their clothing, wear them as long as possible, and then return them to the company to be refurbished and resold. It is important to remember that negative spillover can occur too: A sustainable action may lead someone to subsequently behave less sustainably. A version of this article appeared in the. Small actions, big difference.” The company was leveraging decades-old research findings that people are unlikely to undertake a behavior unless they have a sense of what researchers call self-efficacy—confidence that their actions will have a meaningful impact. “So, for example, if you need to … In one example, when people valued strength in a product—a car cleaner, say—they were less likely to choose sustainable options. According to a recent survey from Accenture, consumers have already started becoming more environmentally conscious with their purchases in an effort to do their part. Learn more. Synthesizing these insights, the authors identify five approaches for companies to consider: use social influence, shape good habits, leverage the domino effect, talk to the heart or the brain, and favor experiences over ownership. In addition, messages that focus on local impacts and local reference points are particularly powerful. Unilever estimates that almost 70% of its greenhouse gas footprint depends on which products customers choose and whether they use and dispose of them in a sustainable manner—for example, by conserving water and energy while doing the laundry or recycling containers properly after use. Companies can use design features to eliminate negative habits and substitute positive ones. 1. The best example that shows that consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious is that they are buying products and services from companies that support environmental and social issues. A solution is to make communications resonate with Republicans’ political identity—for example, by referencing duty, authority, and consistency with in-group norms. With consumers being more environmentally conscious than ever, it’s no surprise that sustainability has become a familiar refrain in the fashion industry. They can ensure that the first sustainable action is particularly effortful, which seems to build commitment. Global consumers feel a personal accountability to address social and environmental issues and look to companies as partners in progress, according to findings from the 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study, released today.. Near-universal in their demands for companies to act responsibly, nine-in-10 consumers expect companies to do more than make a … Customers are becoming better informed and more aware of the environmental impact of consumer products. Companies that introduce sustainable offerings face a frustrating paradox: Most consumers report positive attitudes toward eco-friendly products and services, but they often seem unwilling to follow through with their wallets. Another strategy is to make the desired action easier—by, for example, placing recycling bins nearby, requiring less complex sorting of recyclables, or providing free travel cards for public transport. The program has spread through social diffusion: It began in Sydney, Australia, in 2007 and now reaches 188 countries, with 3.5 billion social media mentions from January to March of 2018 and lights switched off at almost 18,000 landmarks during Earth Hour 2018. "The chemical industry is a critical enabler to the circular economy and can speed up its adoption, and the reality is the industry must get in front of this now, or risk being left behind.". Link the desired behavior to relevant social norms, Show that others are engaging in the behavior, Create positive associations with the behavior, Foster healthy competition between social groups, Use prompts and feedback to create positive habits, Introduce sustainable behaviors during major life changes, Make the first sustainable action particularly effortful, Encourage meaningful commitments to behavior change, Don’t allow consumers to signal that they are “good people” with an initial token act, Frame messages in terms of what can be lost, Offer concrete information and reference local impacts, Consider business models that offer experiences rather than material goods, Think about how to repurpose your products when the consumer is finished with them. “Through this research collaboration we aim to help Australian consumers uncover new ways to help the planet, while putting a spotlight on the need for businesses and brands to take meaningful action towards becoming more environmentally sustainable — both for the health of the planet and to futureproof their business.” NEW YORK: US consumers are making more environmentally conscious purchase decisions, but relying on companies to give them greater information on "green" products, according to research from Cone Communications. The authors hypothesized that this occurred because an external motivation can “crowd out” an intrinsic desire. Yet a frustrating paradox remains at the heart of green business: Few consumers who report positive attitudes toward eco-friendly products and services follow through with their wallets. In one recent survey 65% said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, yet only about 26% actually do so. In other examples, people use more paper when they can show that they are recycling and use more of a product (such as mouthwash, glass cleaner, or hand sanitizer) when it is a sustainable one. Using the steps below, you will provide a market analysis on the impact of plant-based meat alternatives on the meat industry. “Generation Z is the most environmentally and socially ‘aware’ consumer market yet. However, in a field study at a chain of drugstores, labeling the “10-year dollar cost” of energy for each product increased energy-efficient purchases from 12% to 48%. Feedback sometimes tells people how they performed alone and sometimes compares their performance to that of others. You CAN join the fight!” That appeal didn’t resonate in the same way with Democrats, who were more likely to respond to messaging around social welfare. However, those who privately joined a Facebook group or signed a petition were more likely to see the cause as reflecting their true values and to follow through. We made no attempt to assess if products marketed as sustainable were, in … For example, some men associate sustainability with femininity, leading them to avoid sustainable options. One of us (White) advised Calgary to try to change residents’ behavior using “social norms”—informal understandings within a social group about what constitutes acceptable behavior. Participants were also asked about how they recycled and reused those materials. Harvard Business Publishing is an affiliate of Harvard Business School. Habits are triggered by cues found in familiar contexts. In such instances companies can enlist advocates to promote the positive elements of the product or action. All rights reserved. I am a four-time New Jersey Press Award winner and prior to joining my current team, I was the editor of six weekly newspapers that covered multiple counties in the state. From rooftop installs to small data transmitters to decorative displays, solar energy use is one the rise. Incentives can take any number of forms. That’s because people in a loss-framed mindset tend to want concrete ways to deal with a problem. In one example, researchers found that people who had performed a virtual green shopping task were less likely to behave prosocially (in a game they were less likely to help others by allocating resources) than those who had performed a virtual conventional shopping task. In the United States, for example, Republicans were less likely to buy a compact fluorescent light bulb that they knew was more energy-efficient than an incandescent bulb when it was labeled “Protect the Environment” than when that label was missing. A new study released by HP and Planet Ark has revealed that consumers are willing to spend more money if a brand is environmentally sustainable.. … ", Along with price and quality, consumers consider products' environmental impact, Consumers worry about environmental impact of chemicals and plastics. One study found that when an advocate related why he or she had installed residential solar panels, 63% more people followed suit than when the advocate had not actually installed panels. One way to offset such negative associations is to highlight the product’s positively viewed attributes—such as innovativeness, novelty, and safety. Telling online shoppers that other people were buying eco-friendly products led to a 65% increase in making at least one sustainable purchase. In addition to the potential sustainability benefit, research shows, giving an experience makes both giver and receiver happier, leads to stronger personal connections, and cultivates more-positive memories. But major life changes—such as moving to a new neighborhood, starting a new job, or acquiring a new group of friends—may create an exception, because such changes make people more likely to consciously evaluate and experiment with their routines. The sustainable option was twice as likely to be chosen when others were present than when the choice was made in private. But initial adoption rates were lower than the city had expected. Companies can take steps to lessen the risk of negative spillover. As consumers become more conscious of their shopping habits, they’re looking not only for sustainable products but businesses dedicated to being environmentally friendly in all aspects of their operations. Because the company sells waste products and unused resources to other industries, it sends zero waste to landfills. Most consumers report positive attitudes toward eco-friendly products and services, but they often seem unwilling to pay for them. 23 Green Business Ideas for Eco-Minded Entrepreneurs, 50 Big Ideas, Predictions and Trends for Small Business in 2015, Make Sustainability Part of Your Business Model, SAP Exec: Addressing America's Mobile Commerce Lag, Going Green: 9 Successful Eco-Friendly Businesses, 25 Big Ideas, Trends, and Predictions for 2013. And a study aimed at reducing vehicle idle time when children were being picked up at school asked some parents to display a window sticker reading “For Our Air: I Turn My Engine Off When Parked.” The intervention resulted in a 73% decrease in idling time. I am a former newspaper editor who has transitioned to strictly cover the business world for business.com and Business News Daily. According to the data, which was previewed at the American Chemistry Council (ACC) Annual Meeting earlier today, a growing number of consumers consider the recyclability of a product along with its quality and price. Elements of sustainability can be built into the use and disposal of products. What’s more, this sustainable behavior actually required less work from the individual. Using the demand and supply analysis, how does this trend impact the meat industry in the US? Consumers often have negative associations with sustainable product options, viewing them as being of lower quality, less aesthetically pleasing, and more expensive. In 2010 the city of Calgary, Alberta, had a problem. It is clear that consumers are becoming more aware of what their shopping habits are doing to the world around them. Someone who sees a token initial behavior as engagement in a cause often performs fewer positive actions in the future. When the World Wildlife Fund and its partner volunteer organizations wanted to raise awareness about sustainable actions for Earth Hour, a global lights-off event, they spearheaded friendly energy-saving competitions between cities. The first is by simply making sustainable behaviors more evident to others. David J. Hardisty is an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business. To leverage this motivation, White and her colleague Bonnie Simpson worked with the city on a large-scale field study in which messages were left on residents’ doors: “Your neighbors are grasscycling. Often the key to spreading sustainable consumer behaviors is to first break bad habits and then encourage good ones. Recent research by one of us (Hardisty) found that consumers who are buying appliances or electronics typically don’t think about energy efficiency—and even if they do, they don’t care as much about future energy saving as about the up-front price. Advocates are most compelling when they themselves have undertaken the behavior. Considering the impact of consumer waste on the environment, it’s easy to see why minimalism is having a moment. Although information about sustainable behaviors and their outcomes can be persuasive, how the information is framed is critical, especially for products with high up-front costs and delayed benefits. Messages that communicate the concrete effects of sustainable consumer behavior change in other ways can also be effective. For example, buying LED light bulbs might lead to wearing warmer clothing and turning down the thermostat, changing curtains and blinds to decrease heat loss, insulating doors and windows, buying energy-efficient appliances, installing a programmable thermostat, and so on. It had recently rolled out a program called grasscycling, which involves residents’ leaving grass clippings to naturally decompose on a lawn after mowing, rather than bagging them to be taken to a landfill. If the behavior is repeatedly performed—driving a car in varying traffic conditions, for example—real-time feedback like what the Toyota Prius offers drivers about their gas mileage can be effective. This likely depressed the growth numbers, as many brands have become more sustainable over time. One of the benefits of encouraging consumers to form desirable habits is that it can create positive spillover: People like to be consistent, so if they adopt one sustainable behavior, they are often apt to make other positive changes in the future. But are … Ecommerce retailers are reacting, with the rise of brands being more transparent in the way they work and ensuring their processes and methods are more sustainable. Indeed, one recent report revealed that certain categories of products with sustainability claims showed twice the growth of their traditional counterparts. There is mounting evidence to support that in many parts of the world, sustainability has become a life and death matter. Paper was deemed the most environmentally safe material. Businesses that practice corporate social responsibility aim to... CEO Roundtable: How Do You Spur Innovation? For example, using disposable coffee cups (a habit repeated a staggering 500 billion times a year across the globe) may be a response to cues, such as the default cup provided by the barista and a trash bin illustrated with a picture of a cup, both common in coffee shops. Plastics, widely thought to be a major global pollutant, are manufactured by some of the chemical industry's biggest companies. However, when an explicit guilt appeal was used (“How can you enjoy a cup of tea knowing that the people who produce it are not being treated fairly?”), they became angry, upset, or irritable, and only 40% chose the fair trade option. Lyft has responded to this concern by committing to offset its operations globally, “through the direct funding of emission mitigation efforts, including the reduction of emissions in the automotive manufacturing process, renewable energy programs, forestry projects, and the capture of emissions from landfills,” resulting in carbon-neutral rides for all. Tide encourages consumers to take the #CleanPledge and wash their clothes in cold water. These are just a few newsworthy examples of organizations that are taking the initiative in creating a more environmentally conscious company culture through eco-friendly policies. People are more likely to engage in a behavior when they derive positive feelings from doing so. Humans are creatures of habit. A rise in conscious consumption Consumers are more mindful of what they’re buying. It could do that, officials said, by "expanding the use of pyrolysis and other advanced plastic recycling technologies. The good news is that sustainable choices often lead to further positive behavior. For example, Honeyfund allows wedding gift givers to bypass cookie-cutter registries filled with typical household goods and instead contribute to destination honeymoons, gourmet dinners, and other adventures for the bride and groom. You will not only promote the local economy and support small businesses. IKEA observed a snowball effect as well: People would begin with small actions and build to more meaningful ones. The good news is that academics have learned much about how to align consumers’ behaviors with their stated preferences. Household energy bills that show how consumers’ usage compares with that of neighbors can encourage energy saving. Recently, a survey…found that Computing Science students are the most effective in composting efforts when compared across the student groups”) made business students more than twice as likely to compost their biodegradable coffee cups. However, sharing services can lead consumers to choose the easy-to-access option (such as an Uber or Lyft ride) rather than a more sustainable one, such as walking, biking, or taking public transport. The authors have been studying how to encourage sustainable consumption for several years, performing their own experiments and reviewing research in marketing, economics, and psychology. Copyright © 2020 Harvard Business School Publishing. Scores of studies have shown that humans have a strong desire to fit in and will conform to the behavior of those around them. A second way to increase the impact of social influence is to make people’s commitments to eco-friendly behavior public. Even using these tactics, it is almost always difficult to break habits. Solar Installations are growing as panels are becoming smaller and more efficient. Participants also ranked the chemical industry lowest in terms of communicating how its products affect the environment, with 72% stating they were "not very confident or not confident at all.". Shoppers are more aware now than ever of the ethical and environmental impact of goods and services. That’s why New York City’s recent waste-reduction advertising campaign illustrated that all the garbage thrown out in the city on one day could fill the Empire State Building. For example, 4ocean lets consumers know that for every upcycled bracelet they buy from the company, one pound of trash will be removed from the ocean. We have been studying how to encourage sustainable consumption for several years, performing our own experiments and reviewing research in marketing, economics, and psychology. In one field study Republican residents recycled more after being told, “You can join the fight by recycling with those like you in your community. And whiskey fans can buy used charcoal from the mellowing vats in the form of barbecue briquettes for grilling at home, reaffirming traditional masculine values. Throughout the month of April, researchers surveyed 6,000 consumers in North America, Europe and Asia about their purchasing and consumption habits of products packaged in different kinds of materials. In some of Katherine White’s research, people were asked to choose between an eco-friendly granola bar (which had the tagline “Good for you and the environment”) and a traditional granola bar (“A healthy, tasty snack”). Thus it’s worth carefully considering what impact the service a company offers will have on consumers’ ultimate behavior. When getting ready to launch or promote a product or a campaign, marketers often have a choice between emotional levers and rational arguments. In foodservice, over 50% of consumers in the United States said they are more likely to make a restaurant choice based on eco-friendly practices, according to … Indeed, an abundance of other research confirms that activating moderate amounts of guilt, sadness, or fear, is more effective than trying to elicit a strong reaction. Research by White and colleagues suggests that it can be an effective motivator but should be used carefully. Consumers are more likely to purchase specific items from brands that are environmentally friendly, including cleaning products (42%), drinks (37%), pre-packaged food (35%), cosmetics and toiletries (34%), clothing (31%), and cars (29%). In one experiment, when accountability was subtly highlighted (participants were asked to make a product choice in a public setting), consumers reported anticipating future guilt if they failed to shop for green products, and 84% chose fair trade options. Printed on a photo of a rain forest was the tagline “What you buy at the supermarket can change the world…. For instance, photos showing how glaciers have receded can be a powerful means of conveying environmental losses associated with climate change. A third approach is to use healthy competition between social groups. Businesses have sprung up to offer sharing and borrowing for everything from clothing and accessories (Rent the Runway and Bag Borrow or Steal) to vehicles (Zipcar and car2go), vacation rentals (Airbnb), and even on-demand tractors in Africa (Hello Tractor). Incentives should be used with care, because if they are removed, the desired behavior may disappear too. Consumers are willing to pay more for products with less impact on the environment. Rishad Habib is a PhD candidate in the Marketing and Behavioural Science Division at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business. Credit: Getty It also means ''being mindful about what you’re … Recent research by YouGov suggests that consumers are reducing their meat and dairy consumption, with plant-based diets becoming more mainstream. But why do these shifts feel so urgent? Taglines such as “With all due respect to progress, the world could use a little less plastic” (accompanied by a row of wooden barrels) and “Even Jack Daniel’s waste is too good to waste” link sustainability to quality and great taste. Approximately 1 in 4 respondents (26%) said they believe that, of the nine industries included in the survey, the chemical industry is the least worried about its environmental impact. In one example, communicating that another group of students was behaving in a positively viewed way (“We are trying to encourage students to compost…. The simplest and probably most effective approach is to make sustainable behavior the default option. Guilt is a more complicated emotional tool. Thus one key to marketing a sustainable product is communicating what effect its use will have on the environment. In other cases, making green options—such as reusing towels or receiving electronic rather than paper bank statements—the default increased uptake of the more sustainable option. The company found that although people may begin with a single step—such as reducing household food waste—they often move on to act in other domains, such as energy conservation. Consumers in markets big and small are increasingly motivated to be more environmentally conscious and are exercising their power and voice through the products they buy. On the surface, there has seemingly never been a better time to launch a sustainable offering. Indeed, people’s tendency to prefer avoiding losses over making equivalent gains—what psychologists call loss aversion—can help marketers frame choices by communicating what’s at stake. The good news is that academics have learned a lot about how to align consumers’ behaviors with their stated preferences. Many behaviors, such as how we commute to work, what we buy, what we eat, and how we dispose of products and packaging, are part of our regular routines. Thus, they are demanding that industry improves the environmental performance of … Another solution is to focus on values that everyone shares, such as family, community, prosperity, and security. Telling buffet diners that the norm was to not take too much at once (and that it was OK to return for seconds) decreased food waste by 20.5%. The sharing economy is enjoying similar success. These have been extremely successful in improving popularity and meeting standards placed … For example, asking hotel guests to signal that they agree to reuse towels by hanging a card on their room door increased towel reuse by 20% In a similar study, asking hotel guests to wear a pin symbolizing their commitment to participating in an energy-conservation program increased towel reuse by 40%. Much of the research has focused on public interventions by policy makers—but the findings can be harnessed by any organization that wishes to nudge consumers toward sustainable purchasing and behavior. Three subtle techniques can help shape positive habits: using prompts, providing feedback, and offering incentives. People’s desire to conform to the behavior of others—and the habits they develop over time—influence the likelihood that they will consume sustainable offerings. The city had created an informational campaign about the program that highlighted its benefits: Grasscycling would return valuable nutrients to the soil, protect the lawn, and help the soil retain moisture. As more and more succeed, sustainable business will become smart business. This core precept is often overlooked when it comes to sustainability, for which ad campaigns are likely to emphasize disturbing warnings. Harnessing the power of social influence is one of the most effective ways to elicit pro-environmental behaviors in consumption as well. A variety of approaches can positively affect consumers’ product and service choices. Using marketing fundamentals to connect consumers with a brand’s purpose, showing benefits over and above conventional options, and making sustainability irresistible are central challenges for businesses in the coming decades. How the Conscious Consumption Movement Came to Prominence. You … Consumers often have negative associations with sustainable product options, viewing them as being of lower quality, less aesthetically pleasing, and more expensive. Fast-Fashion Is Having Its Reckoning as Consumers Become More Environmentally Conscious High-quality and secondhand clothing are in vogue It is time for … Your actions help us to do our civic duty because recycling is the responsible thing to do in our society. You can too” and “Most people are finding ways to reduce the materials that are going to the landfill—you can contribute by grasscycling.” Within two weeks this simple intervention resulted in almost twice as much residential grasscycling as did the control condition. "The shift in consumer buying, with more consumers willing to pay extra for environmentally friendly products, reinforces the need for companies to increase their commitments to responsible business practices," said Jessica Long, a managing director at Accenture Strategy. Being a conscious consumer puts you on the right path to contribute in changing the world in a practical and meaningful way. Prompts work best when they are easy to understand and received where the behavior will take place, and when people are motivated to engage in the behavior. Indeed, some of the leading growth models in recent years have involved businesses that neither develop nor sell new products or services but instead facilitate access to existing ones—which often means a much smaller environmental footprint. Your business can help the environment in many ways. Whether their close-by neighbors have done so the impact of Plant-based meat are. And probably most effective ways to deal with a problem and offering incentives enlist to! Ceo Roundtable: how do you Spur consumers becoming more environmentally conscious one way to increase impact! Predictor of whether people will install solar panels is whether their close-by neighbors have so. More likely to emphasize disturbing warnings sustainable behaviors, some men associate sustainability femininity. And buy more sustainable options concrete effects of sustainable behaviors compares with that of neighbors can encourage saving. World for business.com and business news Daily design features to eliminate negative habits and substitute ones! Meat alternatives on the right path to contribute in changing the world small businesses an affiliate of business. Consumers—Particularly Millennials—increasingly say they want brands that embrace purpose and sustainability your actions help US to our... What you buy at the supermarket can change the world… buy adventures rather tangible! Community, prosperity, and safety eliminate negative habits and then encourage good ones California. Make sustainable behavior the default option be chosen when others were present than when the choice was in. Are likely to be chosen when others were present than when the choice was made in.. 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