There can be a nervousness amongst brands and organisations only just emerging into the eco and ethical arena, wary of communicating sustainability credentials and policies for fear of laser-like scrutiny of their entire operation (parts of which may well yet be ‘works in progress’).
Fear not… Often this perceived risk can be managed and a balanced profile presented that adequately explains both where you are currently on the journey and where you want to be. In short: ‘Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good’.
The Mainstreaming Reality/Lesson
When it comes to ‘mainstreaming’, it is of course likely that big-name engagement and entry into a sector will help drive cost-competitiveness, especially in retail. However, there have also been some cruel business cases of pioneering early-adopters being squeezed off the shelf by less-sustainable copycat products with bigger marketing budgets and public visibility, undercutting on price.
The reality/lesson is that sustainability as a product/service differentiator needs communicating and defending just as aggressively as any other traditional attribute in a competitive marketplace.
A version of this article first appeared in a Special Report on ‘Supply Chain Strategies’, published in The Times, 21 January, 2014.
Responsibility rising: From animal welfare to worker wellbeing, consumer to C-Suite and eggs to concrete.
Holistic is hard. This is the blunt message coming out of many board rooms faced with the leadership double-whammy of combining supply-chain complexity and crosscutting sustainability in one clear, communicable strategy for responsible sourcing. Difficulty, however, can prove a brand differentiator, with benefits of joined-up thinking on values-based procurement both attractive and advantageous, as Global Head of Plan A Delivery, Marks and Spencer, Adam Elman explains:
“It does require focus and effort, but it is extremely important that business leaders develop a holistic strategy. Apart from calls for greater transparency that organisations are increasingly receiving from customers, NGOs, the media and so forth, the positive business case is becoming clearer – from security of supply to increased trust and lower costs, plus more motivated and engaged workforces.” Read more