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BSR Sustainable Lifestyles

How to Make Money from Consumers’ Sustainable Behavior

BSR Sustainable LifestylesAn online tool can help executives build a business case for sustainability, say nonprofit business network BSR and consultancy Futerra, which launched the free tool late last week.

The Business Case Builder, developed by BSR’s Sustainable Lifestyles Business Group, which includes brands such as Carlsberg, Cathay Pacific, Disney, eBay, Hilton Worldwide, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal, Mars and Mondelez, aims to guide firms through six steps to help them sustain economic value from encouraging consumers’ sustainable behavior.

The online tool is the result of a BSR and Futerra survey earlier this year that found the majority of 54 companies expect sustainable lifestyles will deliver growth, innovation and sales by 2018. Some 40 percent said their company is encouraging consumers to adopt more sustainable lifestyles — but they also said consumers are only mildly interested in sustainability. The biggest barrier to sustainable lifestyles, according to executives, is the lack of a business case.

The six Business Case Builder steps are:

  1. Right behavior: Identify the consumer behavior that will have the most significant sustainability impact. Do this by identifying the business’ biggest environmental impacts through a materiality process and determining consumers’ role through a lifecycle assessment.
  2. Right value: Focusing on the right business drivers. The tool identifies six — regulation, risk, reputation, market, sales and innovation — each with a series of subcategories.
  3. Right tactics: Identify the tactic that is most likely to change consumer behavior and deliver economic value.
  4. Right benchmark: A strong business case is built on precedent. The tool includes about 30 case studies covering four areas: waste and resources, energy and water, healthy living and sustainable products.
  5. Do it right: Learn from global brands how to build value — functional, emotional or social — for the consumer into the plan so the consumer receives benefits from changing behavior. For example, Sprint’s Buyback program, which gives consumers money to recycle old phones, collected 40 million devices between 2001 and 2012. In 2012, the company gave consumers $75 million; Sprint saved $1 billion. And Levi’s WaterLess jeans, which use a finishing technique that reduces water use in the finishing process by up to 96 percent for some styles use, taps into consumers’ desire to help the environment. In 2012, the WaterLess collection saved more than 360 million liters of water and the jeans now sell faster than standard Levi’s jeans.
  6. Celebrate it: Providing evidence such as case studies and feedback to help BSR and Futerra improve the tool.


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