We have been living with the pandemic for over a year now and I am thinking back to what I was hearing back in spring 2020. An interesting stream of thought was about the possibility for mankind to become more acutely aware of the importance of the environment, how we treat nature, and – perhaps – accelerate on what we are supposed to do to make our lifestyle more sustainable and in tune with the planet. More on this line, someone was thinking we were on the brink of a New Era of the Aquarius (astrologically, the Age of Aquarius represents cooperation, humanitarianism, and peace).
We talk a lot about sustainability, what companies should do, and how sustainability could be enhanced by the faster-than-ever digitalisation organisations have been implementing since the beginning of the pandemic.
The main challenge here is again about consumers. The present system is built around the idea of ‘consumption’ – possibly massive and very fast – and the creation of ‘needs’ to drive such consumption into business manageable directions. Even before the pandemic we knew the model was unsustainable, presently we know for sure it is not sustainable given the global economic layout and underlying logistics. Furthermore, the pandemic is creating massive differences across society – the gap between rich and poor is widening, class differences are more acute, and in some countries, even the vaccination is creating gaps between people, professions, and geographical areas. We are reinforcing – willingly or not – an unsustainable patchwork of siloed societies and people. It won’t bring anything interesting unless large chunks of this system are moving to meet ‘sustainability’.
For long sustainability has been pigeonholed into something that it is not. It is not a way to ‘green wash’ consumers’ minds, it is not a bunch of sugar-coated ideas with no substance. It is instead a multi-faced, people-driven, all-encompassing concept. Everything counts, everyone counts when thinking about how to re-shape our impact as mankind, starting from individual people to entire country systems. For example, according to Statista, Italy is recycling an average of 51,3% (at the municipality level) and the city of Mumbai is tasking citizens to suggest solutions for improving the liveability of public spaces. Even Vogue has a list of 35 things everyone can do to adopt a more green lifestyle in 2021.
Companies are role models. A recent Deconstruct research shows that more than 55% of younger generations see brands somewhat like a ‘beacon’ for ideas and behaviours, and more than 65% of customers would pay a premium for the same product if it was more environmentally conscious. Adding environmental value will go a long way in building both a ‘reputation’ in a changing marketplace and a solid revenue stream – since a purchase behaviour based on an ethical system is stronger and more loyal than the attention to just price or performance. The concept of an ‘augmented product’ does include packaging, so why not starting from here to state the new course a company is taking? I mean – more broadly – why do not we change the ‘wrapping’ around the concepts, to make them more appealing?
We don’t buy anything with just logic, we buy with our heart, soul, instinct, and guts, we can be caring individuals, but please give us a shareable purpose, a warm understanding of why, not just cold data.