Industro-tech…Meh. Sustainabilty, Yeah!

The “Service” economy replaced Industro-technology at the start of the 21st century. Now, I argue, “Sustainability” IS the new “Service”.

That’s good news, because “service” we value, much more than “things”.

What’s more good news? Service is sustainable.

The bad news? We’re not culturally at the “sustainability thing” yet. Good service, the kind we happily pay more for is still inconsistent. As a result, so is its value. So far.

Pick your sector—private or public. Pick your enterprise or organization. Too many haven’t got it yet. They still write manuals, depend on rules that quickly become out of date or irrelevant. Or worse: management insists “it’s my way or the highway”.

Back to the good news: we’re on the cusp.

Why? Because an exponentially increasing number of consumers world-wide is shifting to more ethical, sustainable consumerism. Success is there for the growing number of enterprises that do get it; service without sustainability is not service at all.

Propelling these consumers is their simultaneous expectation of Authenticity. Ipsos’ Global Trends 2020 unequivocally assert Authenticity in consumers’ minds about brands is King in determining brand trial and ongoing loyalty.

The world is at a crucial point on our collective journey. Those with the most promising futures are aware that the damaging planetary and social impacts of 20th-century consumerism have never been higher – driven in part by a few charismatic leaders and powerful global movements for change.

To succeed in this evolving socio-economic environment brands must take a positive stance. Eco-friendly options may no longer be “nice-to-have”. It appears we no longer are able to force our environment to adapt to us. Instead, humanity needs to adapt to a changing environment.

More good news: It is!

IPSOS’ Global Trends 2020 says it’s happening everywhere.

Emerging markets that are witnessing vast growth in industry see human activity as a driver of climate change, e.g. Indonesia, Colombia, Mexico and India all agree by more than 90%.

People now expect organizations to actively promote sustainability initiatives; ‘greenwashing’ will no longer pass muster. People are increasingly aware and educated and expect organizations to be transparent in their behaviours.

At least two-thirds (67%) in virtually every market agree that companies do not pay enough attention to the environment. Their emphasis? Renewable energy, reduced plastic and meat consumption, shorter supply chains, and reforestation.  

Even 21st– century legacy players admit it’s time for radical action:

The world needs this revolution. It’s right. The opportunities from it for almost every business willing to adapt along with their markets are huge. Trends can be fuel.

Sure, we can rewind the clock and take a trend-journey through the evolution to this moment. It has been a long time coming.

Remember back when eco-consumption was a niche status play for affluent consumers who aspired to own – or bought – a Tesla Model S?

Or back when Patagonia helped redefine the quest for a more socially responsible business by telling readers of the New York Times ‘Do Not Buy This Jacket’?

Recall the emergence of the new search for Guilt-free consumption?

Fast-forward to 2020:  purposeful consumption becomes more available, affordable and just plain better than ever. It’s becoming less a matter of status for those who opt-in, and more a matter of shame for those who don’t.

Three actionable trends to tap into this eco-sociological change:

1. Sustainability as a Service.
Consumers embrace services that allow them to track and reduce their impact on the planet.

2. Open Source Solutions.

Smart brands open-source their most purposeful work. It ultimately pays off better for all than hoarding ideas or locking them in proprietary silos.

3. Code Breakers.
Consumers look to brands to break their brand or industry code in the name of ethics or sustainability.

As always, innovation examples that are working to reshape customer expectations illustrate these trends.

Today, every business must boost its eco-change actions.

Realistically, of course, nothing changes overnight. But steps toward the changes these trends tout – even the tiny ones – are worthwhile because they are what this new decade’s consumer is coming to believe are in the right direction.

When consumers finally embrace these changes—and that will be soon—remember the aforementioned “cusp” I argued we are on? It is starting to motivate consumers to change what they expect from you. And that’s how the momentous change that’s coming will happen. Slowly but surely.

Are you ready? Let’s do this thing!



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