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Unilever, Sainsbury’s: ‘Don’t Wait for Customer Demand – Create It’

A report from Sainsbury’s, Unilever and Forum for the Future says companies must drive sustainability, rather than waiting for consumers to demand more sustainable products and services.

Consumer Futures 2020 says that companies should create consumer demand through marketing, communications and innovation. This tactic will make money for the most savvy brands, the report said.

The report focuses on detailing four scenarios that explore how patterns of consumption and consumer behavior may change over the next nine years. The sustainability models cover varying degrees of prosperity and of consumer self-help (pictured).

The report authors say the scenarios are a practical tool to help organizations throughout the global consumer goods industry plan for the future.

Possible future trends identified by the report include increased local sourcing of energy and food, a greater number of vertical farms – producing more food per unit of land – and retailers and brands leasing a lifetime’s supply of key goods to consumers.

A toolkit accompanying the report includes six sketched-up products and services for each scenario, showing how brands may meet consumer needs in 2020. The toolkit also includes a set of “personas,” which companies can use to analyze the scenarios from different consumer perspectives.

In September, Forum for the Future released a report that claimed U.K. businesses had rapidly increased the sustainability of their business practices over the last 12 months of data collection.

Sustainable Business 2011 shows that in the latest year for which data is available – 2010 for most firms – the number of U.K. companies gaining environmental management certification rose 13.6 percent and the number publishing sustainability reports jumped 18.8 percent. Over that time period, the number of workers and graduates with sustainability skills and knowledge increased by nearly 4.9 percent, the report said.

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