Business can play a key role in helping consumers build sustainable habits, scaling change for billions, writes Bart de Smet for the World Economic Forum.
There remains a huge gap between what consumers say they’d like to do and what they actually do, because it can be hard work to build sustainable habits and make sustainable choices.
However, it seems that a huge source of untapped potential for positive impact is being overlooked; namely, the role that business can play in helping billions of ordinary citizens make more sustainable choices and change habits and behaviours which, collectively, will make a massive contribution to solving the environmental and social challenges we are all facing.
Here’s what leaders can keep in mind:
Shaping sustainable habits and choices
- Remember: Consumer power can scale change
Among the pledges and policies, commitments and coalitions debated at COP26, the role of citizens was given little attention. This is truly perplexing given many of the world’s biggest consumer-facing brands and businesses were attending, each promoting their sustainability credentials. Surely finding ways to direct the actions of billions of consumers, most of whom already want to do the right thing, towards a fairer, more equal and sustainable future is a no-brainer, never mind a massive opportunity to make a truly disproportionate impact and stand out from the crowd?
- Make sustainable choices easier for consumers
It’s been the case for quite a number of years that research amongst consumers tells us that they want to live more sustainable lives. Ipsos polling in July 2021 revealed that sustainability continues to be a priority: “70% globally say they are more worried about the environment now than a year ago and 72% agree that if ordinary people do not act now to combat climate change, they will be failing future generations.”
- Create incentives to shape sustainable behaviours
- Leverage existing consumers insights and knowledge for action
Closing the ‘say-do gap’: How businesses can help consumers build sustainable habits (World Economic Forum)
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