The future of sustainability is market-facing

16th January 2012 by Amanda Long

Reasons to be cheerful? For me it’s the big one - the prospect of positive behaviour change at scale is on the horizon for 2012. Why now? Because the many pressures facing our society such as austerity and resource constraint will continue to intensify throughout this year and bring into ever sharper focus that behaviour change is sustainability in action. So as business increasingly gets that sustainability is not a ‘niche’ discussion about the environment or ethics and is really about people, ie their customers, their needs and the future of society then the prospect for real change is here.

Let’s be clear – the future of sustainability is market-facing, most especially in the ‘new world’ that we are having to transform society into to ensure the survival of our race. By the‘new world’ I am referring to a world which responds to the forces for change facing our society, (such as resource constraint, economic crisis, climate change, population growth etc etc), through real collaboration with customers and partners, efficient resource use and smart design. It is a world where these features are increasingly desirable and aspirational. This puts brands in pole position to drive positive change. In this context, brands that are first to market with a genuine ‘sustainability’ offer at core, will be the winners. Loyalty and strong relationships with customers will follow. In this age of austerity and resource constraint – ‘value’ becomes more important to customers than ever and the nature of ‘value’ is changing. From the perspective of the customer, there are two big questions which will increasingly be asked of companies:

  • how does your product or service improve my life (add value to it)?
  • what are you doing to help me act on the things that matter to me in my life?

People want companies to make life easy for them. They also want companies to help them make the right decisions. In reality they want companies to put it together for them. The future of sustainable business is market-facing – short, medium and long-term. Sustainability placed at the core of the business is a real game-changer and should be part of a new agenda for growth. 

By Amanda Long, CEO Corporate Culture

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Nice post. Behaviour change really interests me becuase i believe it can be systemised. A system that incentivises positive behaviour will act as the polar opposite to the current one that incentivises negative behaviour (greed, over-eating, celebrity culture etc). Such a system is underpinned with personalisation.

Behaviour change can be systemised by creating a closed-loop community - one that is open to all but which comes with rules. Communications become personalised so that community members are treated as unique individuals with unique needs
Personalisation as a means of enterprise survival is as important to the private sector as it is to the public sector…KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER has never been more important.

The lines between the two sectors are set to blur – personalisation does this – and the responsible capitalism agenda is forcing business to align their objectives with those of the community
Our objective for Wigan is to prototype a virtual marketplace for unemployed labour, spare capacity and excess inventory (public/private/third sectors).
This gives business and other private sector vendors access to potential new buyers – our consortium controls access to them.

By re-shaping the distribution system like this it is possible to optimise the performance of assets – waste streams (like empty seats at soccer games or movies) are efficiently recycled as incentives and re-distributed (repriced) across the system.

On the one hand the consortium tightly manages the enterprise resource planning for the borough but on the other it focuses on community involvement, self-help and the reconstruction of the work ethic using rewards to nudge positive behaviour and build a 'community workforce'.

The personalisation market is huge ($460bn is US alone) so first mover advantage through the development of a personalised distribution platform for goods, services and benefits (delivered as rewards?) is significant. Through personalisation information and incentives become relevant, timely and personalised.

By integrating new ICT tools and components into a borough wide operating system organisations become leaner and residents enjoy a joined-up community experience – a sense of belonging and togetherness.

I'd say a platform like this - an alternative system that offers people real choice - satisfactorily deals with your two big questions.