What do customers understand by the term “sustainable consumption”? And what measures can small and medium-sized enterprises take to satisfy this every growing need on the part of more and more customers?
More and more customers keep a close eye on whether a product has been produced in an environmentally friendly way or whether it bears a Fair Trade seal before they put it in the shopping cart. And so the sustainability image exerts a major influence on the decision to buy. This was also a finding arrived at by the study “Sustainability Image Score” conducted by the advertising agency Serviceplan in collaboration with the journal Wirtschaftswoche.
There are three factors that stand out in particular:
- The ecological factor: A product must be environmentally friendly. This starts with the use of environmentally friendly production technologies, includes the maximum reduction of CO2 consumption and chemicals, and goes right through to innovative (easily degradable) packaging to facilitate environmentally friendly disposal.
- The image factor: A company which cultivates co-operations with environmental protection organisations, such as Naturschutzbund (NABU), and is actively committed to environmental issues gives its customers the feeling that, even as a customer, they are supporting this commitment.
- The consumption factor: For consumers it is increasingly important that they themselves handle resources responsibly and economically – and they also expect this of the producers of the commodities they buy. This is true in particular for non-renewable resources such as ore, fossil fuels and water. Preference is given to products made from renewable resources or recycled material whose production consumes little energy and water and involves environmentally friendly green electricity as far as possible.
Important: the whole value chain must be right. This begins with the procurement of resources (purchasing) and ends finally with disposal/recycling. Thanks to the internet, customers today can see much further behind the scenes in companies than these would like – and they are more curious and better informed than ever. The company can develop a positive image only if everything is consistent and sustainability is authentically integrated. Apart from the fact that environmental friendliness often pays off quite directly, handling resources intelligently can, for example, substantially cut costs.