Innovate With Purpose: TrendWatching’s COP26 Cheat Sheet

As world leaders convene in Glasgow for COP26, we’ve pulled together a handy cheat sheet covering all of the conference’s key themes and, more importantly, how your brand can respond to them. We’re not just talking about charitable donations here, but meaningful business opportunities – trends and innovations that will disrupt Business as Usual (in a good way) and help position your brand as a purpose pioneer.


Finance | Mobilizing public and private finance flows at scale for mitigation and adaptation.

Let's kick things off with Make→Shift: LABEL-LED. Brands which are transparent about the environmental impact of their products and services (and price them accordingly) will not only win kudos from eco-conscious consumers, they’ll also help raise public consciousness at large. The Polish beer brand Zubr made an interesting case for public mobilization of private finance when it bought land on behalf of Biebrza National Park, thereby granting it full autonomy over land use. We saw the private and public spheres intersect for the greater good during the pandemic. What if brands took a similar approach to managing the climate crisis? 




Adaptation | Urgently adapt to protect communities and natural habitats.

No matter how hard the public and private sectors try to reduce carbon emissions, further climate change is unavoidable. How can brands help consumers mitigate the daily impact of climate change? Start by taking an ACCLIMATORS approach and drafting innovations which take the edge off global warming or help consumers deal with its effects. That might mean inviting consumers to plant flood-resistant gardens or helping them to dodge particularly impacted areas in their home cities with thoroughly modern navigation tools. Adaptation also includes providing solutions to climate change’s immediate, devastating, effects. See how Dorothy is dishing out fast cash to disaster-struck consumers. 


Mitigation | Secure global net zero and keep 1.5 degrees within reach. 

Some brands are making BOLD PIVOTS into completely new sectors, all with the aim of mitigating further damage. IKEA proved itself a true purpose leader earlier this year when it launched its STRÖMMA clean energy subscription, making it easy and affordable for consumers to level up their green credentials. Despite being known first and foremost as a furniture retailer, IKEA’s energy subscription delivers on its purpose mission “to create a better everyday life for the many people”. Think laterally about your brand’s purpose mission and the possibilities that lie therein. Ambitious startups like Sailcoop are hoping to provide viable alternatives to one of society’s prime polluters – air travel. Others, like AllotMe, are taking a more grassroots approach to mitigation (pardon the pun) by helping consumers reduce their food miles. What might a BOLD PIVOT look like for your brand?




Collaboration | Work together to deliver.

There’s no ‘I’ in ‘purpose’. Being a truly purpose-driven brand is about putting social and environmental progress before profits. Once you’ve developed a sustainable innovation, how about releasing it as open-source? OpenBike released a set of instructions enabling anyone with access to a workshop and hunk of plywood to make their own pair of wheels. But it could be something far more simple. Maybe your brand has figured out a new, more efficient way to bundle its deliveries? Do your bit by spreading the word. Another idea: team up with another brand to mutual benefit. Madewell recently worked with the resale platform ThredUp on a secondhand store. But why not look beyond your own industry? For instance, SWISS is cracking down on food waste by dishing out its leftover meals via Too Good to Go. 


Okay, that’s enough chitter-chatter. Now it’s time to apply the above lessons to your own brand and turn inspiration into innovations. Use our Consumer Trend Canvas to devise your own climate-boosting business ideas now. 

Create Purpose-Driven Innovations

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