Sure, there are millions around the world who simply want more, faster, cheaper, bigger, tastier, shinier. But the truth is that long-term direction of travel is on the side of brands that have a positive impact on the planet, society and individuals. Here’s why.
Our Divided Selves
Sure, it’s not all good news when it comes to the pursuit of a sustainable future. A smattering of the (many) thunderclouds:
– The last quarter of 2016 saw McDonald’s achieve its best annual global comparable sales growth since 2011. Off the back of all day breakfasts ;)
– The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers says that in 2016 sales of Chinese SUVs jumped by 58 percent to 5.27 million. SUVs were the fastest-growing model within the passenger car category for the third year in a row.
– US voters have elected a president who once claimed climate change is a hoax. Meanwhile NASA data shows 2016 was the hottest year on record globally since modern record-keeping began in 1880. Before 2016, the record was held by…2015. And before 2015 it was…2014. Yep.
But there are rays of sunshine too:
– In 2016 McDonald’s removed artificial preservatives from several menu items, and high-fructose corn syrup from buns. It committed to stop serving chicken fed with medically important antibiotics.
– Tesla’s sales in China tripled to more than USD 1 billion in 2016. The 352,000 electric cars sold in China in 2016 represent 46% of sales worldwide.
– A recent poll shows that 61% of Americans oppose Trump’s plans to remove regulations that combat climate change (Quinnipiac University, February 2017).
The Guilt Spiral
So, what are you supposed to make of all these conflicting signals? As a brand, which side do you take? Here’s why we’re confident that positive impact is still the future.
Rising numbers of consumers are trapped in a toxic guilt-spiral when it comes to the negative impacts their consumption has on the planet, other people, or themselves.
And yes, that spiral is being fueled by rising TRANSPARENCY, which makes it ever-harder to remain ignorant of those impacts. Now, those consumers are looking to brands to make meaningful changes to assuage their guilt.
One glimpse of that? In a recent global survey 53% of consumers said that they actively avoid consuming from companies that have a negative environmental or social impact. And that jumped to 66% among specially-identified leading-edge consumers who tend to adopt behaviours before the mainstream. Furthermore, 73% of consumers said brands have a responsibility to do more than simply generate profit, and that went up to 84% among the leading-edge consumers (Havas, February 2016).