Cause Marketing Halo Awards: Social Impact To Build A Better World And Bottom Line

17 02 2016

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The 2016 Cause Marketing Halo Awards announced its 42 finalists of programs designed to yield both social and financial dividends.  The Gold and Service winners in each of ten categories will be announced at the at the 2016 Cause Marketing Forum Annual Conference in Chicago June 1-2, 2016.

 

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More than 100 entries were received in the Cause Marketing Forum’s competition for North American programs designed to yield social and financial dividends.

Programs named finalists in multiple categories include

  • Bank of America’s “Pass the Flame” campaign with Special Olympics promoting inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in sports and in life;
  • Think it Up’ Staples/DonorsChoose.org partnership supporting student-powered, teacher-led projects in classrooms across the country;
  • Gateways and Getaways’, a bird- and flight-centric education program for New York families from JetBlue and the Wildlife Conservation Society;
  • Dementia-Friendly Massachusetts’ which Senior Living Residences developed to help people better understand the challenges of living with dementia;
  • #Unlimited’ a tween-targeted back to school program from Old Navy and Boys & Girls Clubs of America to support summer programming for kids.

The Halo Awards will highlight many of the most innovative programs that companies and causes took at the intersection of profit and purpose last year. Some examples include:

  • A video game marathon that raised funds to put veterans back to work.
  • An app that helps autistic children make social and emotional connections.
  • Canvas shoes turned into artwork to support high school arts programs.
  • “Thumb Socks” that help persuade teens from texting and

With the proliferation of cause campaigns reaching consumers each day, the Cause Marketing Halo Awards are designed to bring clarity, innovation and best practices to light.

About the Cause Marketing Forum

Now in their fourteenth year, the Cause Marketing Halo Awards are North America’s highest honor in the field of cause marketing. They are presented to US and Canadian companies by the Cause Marketing Forum, a company dedicated to providing business and nonprofit executives with the practical information and connections they need to succeed.

All Halo finalists can be seen online at: http://www.CauseMarketingForum.com/halo2016

original post  http://www.csrwire.com/press_releases/38699-These-Corporate-Social-Impact-Programs-Build-a-Better-World-and-the-Bottom-Line





New Survey: Only 10% of Americans trust business to behave ethically.

17 09 2015

96 percent of Americans believe it is important for companies to ensure their employees behave ethically but only 10 percent have trust and confidence in major companies to do what is right.

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Pharmaceuticals and health insurance were viewed to be the least trustworthy industries. The most trustworthy were thought to be manufacturing, technology and large retailing.

Princeton Survey Research Associates International’s 2015 Public Affairs Pulse survey polled 1,600 Americans on their attitudes about corporate behavior, big business and small business, the trustworthiness of companies and industries, levels of regulation, and lobbying and politics. The study found the vast majority of the public expects the business sector to think beyond profits and be valuable components of society.

Other interesting findings include:

  • More than nine in 10 Americans say businesses need to protect the environment, including 76 percent who feel it is very important that businesses limit their environmental damage.
  • 88 percent believe companies should contribute to charities
  • 85 percent believe they should take a leadership role in helping society in ways that go beyond their business operations
  • 39 percent believe it is very important that businesses take more responsibility in helping the government solve problems.

How can companies communicate what they’re doing for these causes? Social media is reportedly the best way that companies can communicate what they are doing for social causes, with 45 percent calling it very effective and 38 percent calling it somewhat effective. Not surprisingly, those under 50 years old were more strongly in favor of social media communication than those over 50.

Only 15 percent say social media has a significant influence on their opinions, while almost 40 percent say it does not influence their opinion at all. Personal experiences as a customer or employee of a major company were the top factors influencing people’s opinions of a business.

Access more of the Princeton Survey here.  http://pac.org/pulse/

 





TetraPak: Most U.S. Consumers Would Choose Renewable Packaging to Help Mitigate Climate Change

17 08 2015

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A new survey suggests U.S. consumers are largely unaware of the severity of global resource scarcity, but their choice of packaging would be impacted if they had readily available information on how renewable materials mitigate climate change.

Tetra Pak and the Global Footprint Network conducted a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers about their grocery spending habits. An overwhelming 86 percent agreed that if they knew the use of renewable packaging contributed to reducing carbon emissions, it would impact their choice of packaging. Women were particularly motivated to choose renewable packaging options based on this knowledge: 90 percent of females said they would modify their purchasing habits while 77 percent of men did.

According to TetraPak, consumers indicated that they are ready to be held as accountable as government and industry for climate change, and they are ready to support actions to mitigate its harmful effects. While 81 percent of respondents said that no one group is responsible for addressing natural resource constraints, the majority also believes that no single group is doing enough.

“Our survey confirms our belief that with information and education, consumers will respond favorably to the need to pay closer attention to resource challenges and change their individual actions, including making more environmentally responsible decisions around packaging,” said Elizabeth Comere, Director of Environment & Government Affairs for Tetra Pak US and Canada.

The survey also asked respondents about specific actions they would be willing to take to conserve natural resources. The top three responses were:

  • buying local grown food as much as possible (75 percent)
  • only buying as much food as a household was going to consume (72 percent)
  • seeking out food or beverage products that come in renewable packaging (69 percent).

Daily purchasing choices can make a difference, said Mathis Wackernagel, president and co-founder of Global Footprint Network.

“How we meet our basic needs — including food — is a powerful way to shape sustainability. Eating food from local sources and less emphasis on animal-based diets can lower the Ecological Footprint,” he said. “When we buy packaged foods, opting for packaging made from renewable materials also contributes to a lower Ecological Footprint.”

These findings coincide with Earth Overshoot Day, an indicator of when humanity has used up nature’s ‘budget’ for the entire year. Global Footprint Network announced Wednesdaythat we have overshot faster than ever: Overshoot Day moved from early October in 2000 to August 13th this year.

This survey follows Tetra Pak’s launch of the first carton made entirely from renewable packaging materials last year, and is the latest evidence that consumers desire more sustainable packaging options.

 

Original article from Sustainable Brands





Timberland Tires: A Brand With An End Game in Mind

4 11 2014

Timberland’s partnership with Omni United will create co-branded automotive tires specifically designed to be recycled into footwear outsoles when their road journey is complete.

 

 

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According to a joint press announcement, Timberland and Omni United first conceived this partnership three years ago, when sustainability leaders from both brands came together to address a longstanding shared concern. The tire and footwear industries are two of the largest users of virgin rubber. The majority of tires on the market today have a limited life span; ecologically-sound disposal at the end of that life span presents yet another challenge.

In a statement, Stewart Whitney, president of Timberland said,  “Our partnership with Omni United marks a new day for the tire and footwear industries.  An outdoor lifestyle brand and an automotive industry leader may, at first blush, seem unlikely partners – yet our shared values have given birth to tires that express a lifestyle, deliver performance and safety, and prove that sustainability can be so much more than a theory. It’s this kind of cross-industry collaboration that’s fueling real change and innovation in the marketplace.”

G.S. Sareen, president and CEO of Omni United said,  “Omni United and Timberland are taking an entirely different view of sustainability by designing Timberland Tires for a second life from the outset. That is one of the reasons why establishing a take-back and recycling program before the first tire is sold – and choosing an appropriate rubber formulation for recycling the tires into footwear – is so critical.  Our intent is to capture every worn Timberland Tire and recycle it for a second life, so none is used as fuel or ends up in a landfill.”

To bring the tire-to-shoe continuum to life, Timberland and Omni United have established an industry-first tire return/chain of custody process, to ensure the tires go directly to dedicated North American recycling facilities to begin their path toward a second life as part of a Timberland® product. Key steps include:

  • Tire retailers will set aside used Timberland Tires for recycling after consumers purchase new tires to replace their worn out tires.
  • Omni United is partnering with Liberty Tire Recycling and its network of tire collection and recycling firms to sort and segregate the Timberland Tires at the companies’ facilities.
  • The used tires will be shipped to a North American tire recycling facility where they will be recycled into crumb rubber.
  • The crumb rubber will be processed further into sheet rubber for shipment to Timberland outsole manufacturers.
  • The rubber will be mixed into a Timberland-approved compound for outsoles that will ultimately be incorporated into Timberland® boots and shoes. This blended compound will meet the company’s exacting standards for quality and performance, as well as its stringent compliance standards.

Timberland Tires will be sold initially in the United States at leading national and regional tire retailers, as well as online through a state-of-the-art e-commerce platform.

For more information about Timberland Tires, visit www.timberlandtires.com.





Nielsen: Doing Well By Doing Good

3 07 2014

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55% of global respondents in Nielsen’s corporate social responsibility survey were willing to pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact—an increase from 45% in 2011.  However, people living in North America lag the global average, with only 42% saying they would be willing to pay extra – a 7% increase from three years ago.

As continued impactful climate change events and social consciousness raises people’s concern about companies’ impact on society, the importance of brand’s corporate responsibility reputations will continue to rise.  Brands which act responsibly and communicate those actions effectively will increasingly be the ones rewarded by consumers.

 

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Images:  Future Leaders in Philanthropy, Nielsen





Ceres: Sustainability Leadership and Responsibility Starts at the Top

7 05 2014

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“In some cases, companies have substantially accelerated and broadened their sustainability efforts. These companies are providing real leadership and demonstrating that sustainability isn’t a luxury, but rather an essential strategy for building long-term shareholder value.”  

 

In a new research tracking the progress of more than 600 corporations worldwide on broad ranging sustainability measures, Ceres and Sustainalytics are reporting that scientific and economic realities have shifted substantially from just a decade ago challenging companies to innovate and transform.

These are new leadership challenges that rise to the top at companies and demand the attention of top-level executives and Boards of Directors.  Among the findings of the report.

  • Boards of Directors are not taking enough responsibility for overseeing sustainability efforts. Thirty-two percent (198) of the 613 companies’ boards of directors formally oversee sustainability performance—up from 28 percent in 2012.
  • A growing number of companies are incorporating sustainability performance into executive compensation packages. Twenty-four percent of companies (146) link executive compensation to sustainability performance—up from 15 percent in 2012. Yet only 3 percent (19 companies) link executive compensation to voluntary sustainability performance targets, such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions.
  • Companies are increasingly engaging investors on sustainability issues. Fifty-two percent (319 companies) are engaging investors on sustainability issues, up from 40 percent in 2012. The three percent (20 companies) in Tier 1 are using multiple tactics to engage investors including the integration of sustainability information into mainstream investor communications, highlighting sustainability performance and innovations at annual meetings, and directly engaging with shareholders on sustainability topics.

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  • Stakeholders are not consistently involved in the sustainability planning process. Only 36 percent of companies (219)—up from 29 percent in 2012—are disclosing information on how they formally engage stakeholders on sustainability issues. The seven percent (45 companies) in Tier 1 engage stakeholders in the materiality assessment process and disclose the insights gained from stakeholders.
  • More companies are actively engaging employees on sustainability issues. Forty percent (248 companies) have some programs in place to engage employees on sustainability issues—an increase from 30 percent in 2012. The six percent (37 companies) in Tier 1 go further by systematically embedding sustainability into company-wide employee engagement.
  • Companies are not doing enough to address water risks, especially in stressed regions.  Of the 103 water-intensive companies evaluated, 50 percent assess water-related business risks, a slight decline from the 55 percent in 2012. Only 26 percent (27 of 103 companies) are prioritizing efforts in water stressed regions.
  • Additional innovation is needed to drive sustainable products and services.  Of the 419 companies evaluated for this expectation, 14 percent (57 companies) have formal programs to invest in and promote sustainability products and services, compared to 10 percent in 2012.

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About the report partners:

Ceres is a non-profit organization advocating for sustainability leadership. We mobilize a powerful network of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy.

Sustainalytics is an award-winning provider of environmental, social, and governance research and analysis. We support investors around the world with the development and implementation of responsible investment strategies. Sustainalytics also partners with institutional investors that integrate ESG information and assessments into their investment decisions.





WHO: 1 in 8 Global Deaths Linked To Air Pollution

8 04 2014

The World Health Organization reports that in 2012 around 7 million people died – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure.  This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk.

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Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives.

The new data reveal a strong link between air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases and cancer.  The new estimates are not only based on more knowledge about the diseases caused by air pollution, but also upon better assessment of human exposure to air pollutants through the use of improved measurements and technology. This has enabled scientists to make a more detailed analysis of health risks from a wider demographic spread that now includes rural as well as urban areas.

“Cleaning up the air we breathe prevents non-communicable diseases as well as reduces disease risks among women and vulnerable groups, including children and the elderly,” says Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General Family, Women and Children’s Health. “Poor women and children pay a heavy price from indoor air pollution since they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves.”

“The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes,” says Dr Maria Neira, Director of WHO’s Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.”

After analysing the risk factors and taking into account revisions in methodology, WHO estimates indoor air pollution was linked to 4.3 million deaths in 2012 in households cooking over coal, wood and biomass stoves. The new estimate is explained by better information about pollution exposures among the estimated 2.9 billion people living in homes using wood, coal or dung as their primary cooking fuel, as well as evidence about air pollution’s role in the development of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and cancers.

In the case of outdoor air pollution, WHO estimates there were 3.7 million deaths in 2012 from urban and rural sources worldwide.

Many people are exposed to both indoor and outdoor air pollution. Due to this overlap, mortality attributed to the two sources cannot simply be added together, hence the total estimate of around 7 million deaths in 2012.

“Excessive air pollution is often a by-product of unsustainable policies in sectors such as transport, energy, waste management and industry. In most cases, healthier strategies will also be more economical in the long term due to health-care cost savings as well as climate gains,” says Dr Carlos Dora, WHO Coordinator for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “WHO and health sectors have a unique role in translating scientific evidence on air pollution into policies that can deliver impact and improvements that will save lives.”





Brandkarma: A new Global Reputation System for Brands

7 03 2014

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“Brands often fall short of their potential to do good – reputation without responsibility. Brandkarma will change that.”

Upendra Shardanand, founder Daylife

Welcome Brandkarma.com – the first social community that will rate and review brands ability to do good in the world.

Consumer research has repeatedly demonstrated that people expect businesses to operate responsibly and to contribute to positive change in the world.  Many people say that if brands fail to operate responsibly, they will stop purchasing the products that the brand provides.

Brandkarma.com was launched to empower consumers to better translate those beliefs into action.  Brandkarma.com allows consumers to see brands holistically – not only the quality of their products but the brand behaviors toward their employees, their community and the planet at large.

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visit brand karma.com here





Survey: Most Executives Believe In Sustainability, But Half Fail To Act.

28 01 2014

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In a new survey, nearly two-thirds of respondents rate social and environmental issues, such as pollution or employee health, as “significant” or “very significant” among their sustainability concerns. Yet only about 40% report that their organizations are largely addressing them. Even worse, only 10% say their companies fully tackle these issues.

Interestingly, the survey shows that while 67% of the business leaders surveyed strongly agree with the statement “climate change is real”, only 9% strongly agree that “my company is prepared for client change risk.”

In the 2013 report, new research by MIT Sloan Management Review and The Boston Consulting Group looks at companies that “walk the talk” in addressing significant sustainability concerns. So-called “Walkers” focus heavily on five fronts: sustainability strategy, business case, measurement, business model innovation and leadership commitment. For them, addressing significant sustainability issues has become a core strategic imperative and a way to mitigate threats and identify new opportunities.

Among the characteristics of “Walkers” in the survey,

  • More than 90% have developed a sustainability strategy, compared to 62% among all respondents.
  • 70% have placed sustainability permanently on their top management agenda, compared to an average of 39%.
  • 69% have developed a sustainability business case, compared to only 37% of all respondents.

Among the approximately 5000+ business leaders worldwide who participated in the research, the vast majority identify environmental and social issues as “very significant: or “significant.”

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Top management support is a very powerful catalyst of sustainability efforts — 68% of respondents say senior management has the greatest influence on sustainability endeavors. Employees are also part of the equation — 24% of respondents cite employees as the most influential. Employees place great value in working for companies with strong sustainability footprints. And they are often at the ready to accelerate progress.

According to the research report, “There is little disagreement that sustainability is necessary to be competitive — 86% of respondents say it is or will be. Sustainability’s next frontier is tackling the significant sustainability issues — or, in the parlance that is gaining currency, “material sustainability issues” — that lie at the heart of competitive advantage and long-term viability. Yet many companies struggle to match their strong level of sustainability concern with equally strong actions. They still wrestle with settling on which actions to pursue and aligning around them.”

Read the research report here.

About the Research

For the fifth consecutive year, MIT Sloan Management Review, in partnership with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), conducted a global survey. The 2013 survey included more than 5,300 executive and manager respondents from 118 countries. This report is based on a smaller sub-sample of 1,847 respondents from commercial enterprises. Respondent organizations are located around the world and represent a wide variety of industries.





SOGB: Business Sustainability Progress Has Stalled

27 01 2014
According to the 2014 State of Green Business report published by GreenBiz Group in partnership with Trucost plc., companies around the world are struggling to make progress on climate change, resource efficiency and natural capital dependency.
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“While more and more companies are undertaking a growing number of initiatives to reduce their environmental impacts, there’s very little progress to show for it. Company initiatives are not having an impact at the scale needed to address such challenges as climate change and the availability of water and natural resources,” said Joel Makower, GreenBiz Group executive editor and the report’s principal author.
The seventh annual edition of the report, which measures the global progress of large, publicly traded companies in addressing a myriad of environmental challenges, reveals little meaningful progress across most metrics, including greenhouse gas emissions, water use, waste disposal and other pollutant impacts.
“The environmental impacts of business – air pollution, biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation and water scarcity – are threatening the ability of our finite stock of natural capital to deliver sustainable growth,” said Richard Mattison, CEO of Trucost. “The challenge for business is to identify growth models that result in reduced environmental impact.
”The report also names the 10 sustainable business trends for 2014. Among them are the growth of collaboration among big corporations to solve mutual sustainability challenges, the growth of chemical transparency for consumer products, the emergence of “shadow pricing” as a means for companies to assess their environmental risks and net-positive buildings.
The 2014 report includes the launch of the Natural Capital Leaders Index, a new methodology for identifying companies that are growing their revenue while reducing their environmental impacts. The 2014 Index found 34 companies from 10 countries that met Trucost’s criteria, which include increasing revenue between 2008 and 2012, disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions and a decrease in environmental impacts during that same period.Among the 34 “decoupling leaders” are Carnival Corp., CSX, Intel, Kimberly-Clark, National Australia Bank, Pearson, Tata Power and Verizon.The Index further identifies US and Global “efficiency leaders” that use the least natural capital to generate revenue compared to sector peers – the more traditional sustainability leaders – which include Adobe Systems, AMEC, BMW, Ford, Manpower, McGraw Hill Financial, Pepco Holdings and Sprint Corp.The metrics from the report were drawn from Trucost’s assessment of 4,600 of the world’s largest companies representing 93% of global markets by market capitalization.The State of Green Business report will be the centrepiece of the upcoming GreenBiz Forum (Feb 18-20), taking place in Phoenix, AZ, where speakers will address many of these trends and metrics.The free report can be downloaded from GreenBiz.com.





CCC: Enhanced Reputation Key Goal of CSR Efforts.

17 01 2014

CSRNew reports cites increased funding, senior leadership appointments, management engagement and reputation enhancement goals for corporate citizenship.  The Center for Corporate Citizenship has released its The Profile of the Practice 2013.  The report explores how the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) dimensions of business—corporate citizenship—are managed in today’s business world, and how these practices have evolved since the last report in 2010.

“Corporate citizenship is managed at higher levels, corporate citizenship leaders are better compensated, and more companies establish both board committees and official budgeted departments to manage their programs,” said Katherine Smith, Executive Director, Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship said in a statement. “These are all signs that CSR continues to be more deeply embedded in business as more executives realize that positive environmental, social and governance measures correlate to positive financial performance, improved reputation, and solid risk management.”

Among the key findings in the survey:

  • More than 70% of companies cited enhanced reputation among the top three business goals they are trying to achieve through their corporate citizenship efforts. The next most frequently cited goals are improving employee retention (45%), improving employee recruitment (41%), attracting new customers (33%), and improving risk management (22%).
  • The chief executive is more involved in developing strategy, setting goals, and communicating corporate citizenship than reported in both 2008 and 2010. More than 25% indicate that their chief executive is highly involved in corporate citizenship program evaluation.
  • Almost 100% of companies have a corporate citizenship budget today, while just 81% reported being budgeted in 2010.
  • Almost 60% of companies have an executive leading corporate citizenship. This is a 74% increase over what was reported in 2010. Close to one-third of corporate citizenship leaders are within one level of the chief executive.

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The survey was conducted in the Fall of 2013 of 231 companies  and their corporate citizenship strategies, operational structures, and business practices were analyzed. 

About the Center for Corporate Citizenship

The Carroll School of Management Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College is a membership-based knowledge center. Founded in 1985, the Center has a history of leadership in corporate citizenship research and education. The Center engages more than 400 member companies and more than 10,000 individuals annually to share knowledge and expertise about the practice of corporate citizenship through the Center’s professional development programs, online community, regional programs, and annual conference. The Center is a GRI-Certified Training Partner. For more information, visit the Center’s website at www.BCCorporateCitizenship.org.

 

 

 





Project Sunlight: Unilever’s Call To Action For Sustainable Living

21 11 2013

Unilever has launched  a worldwide new initiative to motivate millions of people to adopt more sustainable lifestyles.  Launched yesterday on Universal Children’s Day in Brazil, India, Indonesia, the UK and the US, Project Sunlight aims to make sustainable living desirable and achievable by inspiring people, and in particular parents, to join what Unilever sees as a growing community of people who want to make the world a better place for children and future generations.

Project Sunlight was launched with the four-minute film embedded here and created by DAVID Latin America and Ogilvy & Mather London at dawn on November 20th in Indonesia and then follow the sun to India, the UK, Brazil and the US. Additional information can be found at an online hub – www.projectsunlight.com – which brings together the social mission stories of Unilever’s brands across the world, and invites consumers to get involved in doing small things that help their own families, others around the world and the planet.

To mark the launch of Project Sunlight on Universal Children’s Day, Unilever will be helping 2 million children through its ongoing partnerships, providing school meals through the World Food Programme; supporting Save the Children to provide clean, safe drinking water; and improved hygiene through UNICEF.

Ogilvy & Mather Chairman and CEO Miles Young, explains: “Unilever asked us to find a new way to talk about sustainability that would make the benefits real for ordinary people. Project Sunlight is founded on the principle that even small actions can make a big difference and that together, we can create a brighter future.  We are honored to be a part of such a positive and significant movement for the good of our client and our communities.”  Famed film director Erroll Morris directed “Why bring a child into this world?” including moving interviews with expectant parents from around the world.

The project draws on the legacy of Unilever’s founder Lord Leverhulme, who believed that he could change the world with a brand of soap he called Sunlight.

Kudos to Unilever, Ogilvy, DAVID and everyone involved in this important initiative that hits at the heart of the matter: if we can’t work to improve living conditions on our precious planet, how dare you bring a child into this world.





86% of Americans Expect Food and Beverage Brands To Actively Help Recycle Their Packaging.

12 11 2013

Recycling-binsAn overwhelming majority of Americans want brands to get engaged in creating and implementing recycling programs, according to a new survey of 1000 adults by the Carton Council of North America (CCNA).

In a statement, Jason Pelz, VP of environment at Tetra Pak North America, and VP of recycling projects for the CCNA  said, “First and foremost, this survey reiterates the importance of including a recycling message on product packaging.  In an increasingly competitive and green‑minded climate, consumers are revealing they expect food and beverage brands to actively help increase the recycling of their packages.”

U.S. consumers also indicated that they look first to the products they purchase for environmental information, ahead of other resources, with the vast majority (76 percent) consulting a product’s packaging to learn if a package is recyclable, followed by the product’s company website (33 percent) and the consumer’s city website (26 percent).

Importantly, 45% say their loyalty to food and beverage brands would be impacted by that brand’s engagement with environmental causes.

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The Carton Council is leading a national effort to increase access to carton recycling in the U.S. In 2009, 21 million U.S. households had access to carton recycling in 26 states. Now, 52.5 million households in 45 states can recycle cartons, a 150 percent increase that includes 64 of the nation’s top 100 cities. Food and beverage brands that use cartons for their products are encouraged to join this effort, especially in helping promote carton recycling to their customers. CCNA can provide companies with tools to inform their customers — from the first step, which is adding the recycling logo to packages and recycling information on their websites, to an extensive list of possibilities beyond that.





The Aspirational Consumer: 2.5 Billion People Redefining Responsible Consumption

8 10 2013

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A new global consumer study confirms the rise of nearly 2.5 billion consumers globally who are uniting style, social status and sustainability values to redefine consumption.

According to the report by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility : The 2013 Aspirational Consumer Index – more than one-third of consumers globally (36.4%) identify as Aspirationals, defined by their love of shopping (78%), desire for responsible consumption (92%) and their trust in brands to act in the best interest of society (58%). The study draws from a telephone and in-person survey of more than 21,000 consumers across 21 international markets conducted in April 2013.

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According to Eric Whan, Sustainability Director at GlobeScan, “Aspirationals are materialists who define themselves in part through brands and yet they believe they have a responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society.  By engaging Aspirational consumers, brands can further the shift toward more sustainable consumption and influence behavior change at scale.”

Key characteristics of Aspirational consumers include:

  • Trust in Brands: Nearly six in ten Aspirational consumers globally say they “trust global companies to act in the best interest of society” (58%), compared with 52% of all consumers;
  • Seek Style and Status: Three-fourths of Aspirational consumers say “I want to stand out by the way I look, my style” (73%), compared to 53% of all consumers;
  • Positive Influencers: Nearly nine in ten Aspirational consumers say “I encourage others to buy from socially and environmentally responsible companies” (88%), compared to 63% of all consumers;
  • Empowered Shoppers: Nearly eight in ten Aspirational consumers say “shopping for new things excites me” (78%), compared to 48% of all consumers, and believe they “can change how a company behaves based on my purchase decisions” (78%), compared with 66% of all consumers;
  • Responsible Consumers: Nine in ten Aspirational consumers say “I believe we need to consume less to preserve the environment for future generations” (92%), compared to 75% of all consumers, and that they are “willing to pay more for products produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way” (91%) compared to 64% of all consumers;
  • Young and Urban: Demographically, Aspirational consumers make up the largest percentage of Millennial (40%) and GenX (37%) generations, compared to 32% and 33% in the general population, respectively, and nearly six and ten (59%) live in cities; and
  • Strength in Emerging Markets: Countries with the largest populations of Aspirational consumers include China (46%), Nigeria (45%), Pakistan (44%), India (42%), Australia (41%), Canada (40%), Indonesia (38%), Greece (37%), France (36%), USA (36%), Turkey (35%) and the UK (34%).

“Driven by young, optimistic consumers in emerging markets and amplified by technology and social media’s influence, Aspirationals represent a powerful shift in sustainable consumption from obligation to desire,” said Raphael Bemporad, co-founder and chief strategy officer at brand innovation consultancy BBMG. “With Aspirationals, the sustainability proposition has changed from being the ‘right thing to do’ to being the ‘cool thing to do,’ and brands have a profound opportunity to harness sustainable design and societal values to inspire the next generation of commerce and create positive impact in the world.”

“For decades, green marketers have been speaking to the wrong consumers, assuming that by engaging the most committed ‘advocates’ we would create significant business growth, cultural relevance and change at scale,” Bemporad added. “What makes Aspirationals so compelling is that they combine an authentic commitment to sustainability with a love of shopping, design and social status, aligning economic, cultural and social forces to shift the way we shop.”

“With 2.5 billion consumers worldwide, Aspirationals offer an important opportunity to redefine sustainable consumption,” said Mark Lee, Executive Director at SustainAbility. “Like never before, brands can engage Aspirationals to pioneer new models and practices that can deliver economic growth while reducing negative impacts on the environment.”

 

Read the original press release on CSR Wire.





United Nations: CEOs say sustainability less important.

24 09 2013

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In a massive new study which interviewed 1,000 CEOs around the world, The United Nations and Accenture report that only 32% of CEOs believe the global economy is on track to meet the demands of a growing population within global environmental and resource constraints.  Alarmingly, the number of CEOs of saying that sustainability is “very important” to their business success dropped to 45%, a decline from 54% just three years ago.

The third United Nations Global Compact – Accenture CEO Study On Sustainability 2013 points to CEOs concern about an uncertain global economic climate as directly impacting the urgency of addressing sustainable business operations.  Despite the report that 63% of CEOs expect sustainability to transform their business within five years – and 76% believe that embedding sustainability into core business will drive revenue growth and new opportunities – many struggle with market expectations, investor pressure and the difficulty of measuring the business value of sustainability.

The report demonstrates how the world’s CEOs are conflicted on the extent to which they believe that business is making sufficient efforts to address sustainability. with 33% agreeing business is making the acceptable effort, while 38% disagree.  See the report chart below:

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In an executive summary of the CEO survey, the authors conclude:

“CEOs clearly recognize the scale of the global challenge—but may not yet see the urgency or the incentive for their own businesses to do more and to have a greater impact. This disconnect suggests that a gap persists between the approach to sustainability of the majority of companies globally—an approach centered on philanthropy, compliance, mitigation and the license to operate—and the approach being adopted by leading companies, focused on innovation, growth and new sources of value.”

Other key findings in the report include:

  • 83% of CEOs see an increase in efforts by governments and policy makers to provide an enabling environment for the private sector as integral to advancing sustainability.
  • 85% of CEOs demand clearer policy and market signals to support green growth.
  • Only 29% of CEOs regard climate change as one of the most important sustainability challenges for the future of their business
  • And just 14% regard water sanitation as an important issue for their business to address.

Clearly the lack of progress on the global economy and the failure of governments and regulators to provide consistent sustainability frameworks are holding back CEOs from focusing their full attention on the long-term issues of sustainability and threatened natural resources.  As the report highlights, more urgency is needed:

“As business leaders across the world come together this year to set out an architecture to align business action with global priorities, there is a clear and unequivocal call for greater ambition, greater speed and greater impact.”

– United Nations Global Compact

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Carbon Trust: 2/3 of public unable to name businesses that take sustainability seriously.

23 09 2013

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In a recent survey of more than 1,800 adults in the United Kingdom, The Carbon Trust Fund found that 68% of people were unable to name a company that is taking sustainability seriously.

In addition, just 5% of respondents see businesses as being most effective in helping the environment.  Despite the significant efforts many companies across the world are making to turn their business operations to more responsible and sustainable entities, the UK study underscores how poorly those companies are communicating their actions.

According to Tom Delay, the chief executive of Carbon Trust:

“While it’s clear that consumers still care about the environmental future, their perspective on where the responsibility falls is skewed. It cannot be solely down to environmental groups to shoulder the weight of protecting our planet’s natural resources. Businesses have an enormous role to play here and need to be seen to be doing their part.  As businesses look for more ways to grow, sustainability should become a golden opportunity for investment, allowing them to become more resilient to future environmental resource shocks and to cut their costs and grow their revenues. The smart companies will invest now and put sustainability inside their businesses.”

The same survey of UK adults did have some encouraging signs regarding concern for the environment.   The demand for green products appears to be increasing with only 6% saying they are less likely to buy a sustainable product and/or service than five years ago while almost three in ten (27%) said they are more likely.   Increased concern about the personal impact of what they buy on the environment was the most important reason for this (45%) and 43% of the public surveyed said they lead a more sustainable life than five years ago.





U.S. Business Leaders Urge Strong Policy Action on Climate Change

11 04 2013

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As the President unveils his budget for the coming year, 33 major U.S. companies, including eBay Inc., Nike and Limited Brands signed a “Climate Declaration,” urging federal policymakers to take action on climate change, asserting that a bold response to the climate challenge is one of the greatest American economic opportunities of the 21st century.

“The signers of the Climate Declaration have a clear message for Washington: Act on climate change. We are, and it’s good for our businesses.  The cost of inaction is too high. Policymakers should see climate change policy for what it is: an economic opportunity.” said Anne Kelly, Director of BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy) coalition. 

Together, the Declaration signatories provide approximately 475,000 U.S. jobs and generate a combined annual revenue of approximately $450 billion. Extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy have affected several Climate Declaration signatories and exposed the United States’ economic vulnerability to climate change.  Signatories of the Climate Declaration are among the country’s best-known consumer brands, including Starbucks, Levis EMC Corporation, IKEA, Jones Lang LaSalle, L’Oréal, the North Face, the Portland Trail Blazers, Timberland and Unilever, among others.

“From droughts that affect cotton crops to Hurricane Sandy, which caused extensive damage to our operations, climate affects all aspects of our business,” said Eileen Fisher, CEO of New York-based apparel firm Eileen Fisher, which suffered severe damage and business interruption during the 2012 storm. “As a socially and environmentally responsible company, we are trying to affect positive change, but business can’t do it alone. We need the support of strong climate legislation.”

The signatories of the Climate Declaration are calling for Congress to address climate change by promoting clean energy, boosting efficiency and limiting carbon emissions – strategies that these businesses already employ within their own operations.

“Businesses understand that planning for a successful future takes investment today. One of the most important things Congress can do to grow our economy and protect our planet is to pass smart climate change legislation this year. Our workforce, supply chain and consumers are counting on us to lead the way,” said Anna Walker, Director, Government Affairs and Public Policy at Levi Strauss & Co.

BICEP members have supported several climate-driven policies, including historic automotive fuel economy standards signed into law in 2012 and the extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind power. Innovation within the transportation, electric power sectors and IT sectors, among others, will be essential to meeting the climate challenge.

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“eBay Inc. is committed to driving a future for commerce that embraces clean energy innovation and is ultimately more sustainable,” said Lori Duvall, Global Director, Green at eBay Inc. “Our efforts extend across our data, employee and distribution center portfolios, our shipping and logistics infrastructure, as well as the actions of buyers, sellers, and merchants on our platforms. We see our participation in this coalition as a key element in bringing to life our vision for enabling greener forms of commerce over the long term.”

The Climate Declaration comes on the heels of the President’s renewed commitment to combat the threat of climate change and a recent study from Ceres, Calvert Investments and WWF indicating that a strong majority of Fortune 100 companies have set renewable energy or greenhouse gas reduction goals. Recent polls conducted by Gallup and Yale University, respectively, indicate that a majority of Americans believe climate change is happening and that corporations, as well as government officials, should be doing more to address the issue.





Cone: Green Gap Shows Actions Don’t Align With Intent

6 04 2013

Green-Question-300x300In the release of its latest 2013 Cone Communications Green Gap Trend Tracker, a record-high 71 percent of Americans consider the environment when they shop, up from 66 percent in 2008*. However, Americans continue to struggle with their role in the life-cycle of products with an environmental benefit.

90% said they believe it’s their responsibility to properly use and dispose of these products, but action isn’t aligning with intent:

• Only 30% say they often use products in a way that achieves the intended environmental benefit

• 42% say they dispose of products in a way that fulfills the intended environmental benefit

• 45% of consumers actively seek out environmental information about the products they buy.

Despite the lack of consistent follow-through, consumers are showing an inclination to learn more.

• 71% of Americans report they regularly read and follow instructions on how to properly use or dispose (66%) of a product.

• 41% said they perform additional research to determine how best to utilize and discard a product for maximum benefit.

Responsible Brands Communicate and Facilitate Change

In a statement,  Liz Gorman, Cone Communications’ senior vice president of Sustainable Business Practices said “Consumers are ready to follow through on the intended use or disposal of environmentally preferred products, but they need companies’ help.  This is the next evolution of environmental marketing. Clear and candid communication can ensure consumers understand the important role they play in minimizing the impacts associated with the product’s lifecycle.  The new green gap is about consumers only taking the idea of responsibility so far, despite feeling responsible for proper use and disposal.  They’re buying with the environment in mind, but they rely on companies to provide access and education to truly ‘close the loop.”

Consumer understanding of environmental messages also presents an obstacle.

Although more than 60 percent of respondents say they understand the environmental terms companies use in their advertising, the majority continue to erroneously believe common expressions such as “green” or “environmentally friendly” mean a product has a positive (40%) or neutral (22%) impact on the environment. Fewer were able to correctly identify these terms as meaning the product has a lighter impact than other similar products (22%) or less than it used to (2%). Despite the attention given to product development and environmental marketing, consumer misunderstanding of “green” claims has remained flat at around 60 percent since 2008.

• 71% of consumers wish companies would do a better job helping them understand environmental terms. Although they feel overwhelmed by the volume of messages in the marketplace, consumers prioritize authenticity over perfection and will punish companies if they feel misled:

• 48% percent say they are overwhelmed by environmental messages

• 69% say it’s okay if a company is not environmentally perfect as long as it is honest

• 78% say they will boycott a product if they discover an environmental claim to be misleading

Abridged from a report on the research in a statement from Cone Communications.  Read the full press release here.

Click to access 2013_cone_communications_green_gap_trend_tracker_press_release_and_fact_sheet.pdf





GlobalScan: Environmental Concerns At 20 Year Lows

12 03 2013

Cloud formation in the shape of a map of the world, over a green field

Environmental concerns among citizens around the world have been falling since 2009 and have now reached twenty-year lows, according to a multi-country GlobeScan poll.  Asked how serious they consider each of six environmental problems to be — air pollution, water pollution, species loss, automobile emissions, fresh water shortages and climate change — fewer people now consider them “very serious” than at any time since tracking began twenty years ago.

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A total of 22,812 people from 22 countries were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone as part of the GlobeScan Radar annual tracking poll during the second half of 2012. Twelve of the represented countries have been regularly polled on environmental issues since 1992.

“Scientists report that evidence of environmental damage is stronger than ever—but our data shows that economic crisis and a lack of political leadership mean that the public are starting to tune out,” says GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller. “Those who care about mobilizing public opinion on the environment need to find new messages in order to reinvigorate a stalled debate.”

Climate change is the only exception, where concern was lower from 1998 to 2003 than it is now. Concern about air and water pollution, as well as biodiversity, is significantly below where it was even in the 1990s. Many of the sharpest falls have taken place in the past two years.

The perceived seriousness of climate change has fallen particularly sharply since the unsuccessful UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December 2009. Climate concern dropped first in industrialized countries, but this year’s figures show that concern has now fallen in major developing economies such as Brazil and China as well.

Despite the steep fall in environmental concern over the past three years, majorities still consider most of these environmental problems to be “very serious.” Water pollution is viewed as the most serious environmental problem among those tested, rated by 58 percent as very serious. Climate change is rated second least serious out of the six, with one in two (49%) viewing it as “very serious.”





WFA: Marketers Lag Consumers On Importance Of Responsible Brands

9 03 2013

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According to new research released this week by the World Federation of Advertisers, some 83% of marketers believe brands should have a “purpose”, but many shoppers have moved ahead of the industry in this area.  Some 56% of industry insiders thought consumers would prefer brands that supported “good causes at the same time as making money”, but Edelman’s consumer research pegged the actual total at 76%.

These figures stood at 40% and 47% respectively with regard to how many people bought caused-backing products at least once a month.

More broadly, only 38% of marketers had witnessed “consumer scepticism” when trying to position their products around a “purpose”, with shoppers in Europe, somewhat surprisingly, the least cynical.

The trade body polled 149 marketers from 58 firms controlling $70bn in adspend. It then compared the results with a global poll of 8,000 shoppers conducted by Edelman, the PR network.  The study was presented at the WFA’s Global Marketer Week, and features insights from organisations like Anheuser-Busch Inbev, the brewer, and Johnson & Johnson, the healthcare giant.

Fully 80% of the professionals polled agreed chief executives should help and be involved in shaping a purpose, a reading which stood at 74% for chief marketing officers, 64% for corporate communications and 53% for all staff.

While 49% of this panel agreed their brands had a purpose, only 38% felt it was communicated well. More positively, a 93% majority said the impact of purpose on reputation could be measured, as did 91% for consumer engagement.

Upon being asked to name the company which has best embraced purpose, Unilever, the FMCG firm, led the charts on 23%, buoyed by its goal to double sales and halve its environmental footprint by 2020.

Procter & Gamble, a rival to Unilever, took second on 15%, and has embraced the corporate mantra of “touching and improving” consumers. Soft drinks titan Coca-Cola was third on 14%.





Honda: Buy a new Honda and we’ll solar power your home.

20 02 2013

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Honda and Acura are offering a pioneering new partnership with SolarCity that lets Honda customers install solar systems at home for little or no upfront cost.

Through a partnership with SolarCity, a residential and commercial installer, Honda and Acura will offer their customer’s home solar systems at little or no upfront cost, the companies said on Tuesday. The automaker will also offer its dealers preferential terms to lease or buy systems from SolarCity on a case-by-case basis, executives said.

The deal announced Tuesday by both companies will allow Honda will provide financing for $65 million worth of installations and will help the automaker promote its environmental aims and earn a modest return. It could also open the door for more corporate investment in solar leasing companies, which has largely been limited to a small cluster of banks to provide capital for their projects.

Honda approached SolarCity more than a year ago when it was looking for a partner to provide solar installation services for its hybrid and electric vehicle customers, said Ryan Harty, American Honda’s assistant manager for environmental business development. The company then decided to expand to all its customers — a group it is defining “very, very broadly,” Mr. Harty said, to include not just car owners but also those who have explored its Web sites. The offer will be available in 14 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington, and the District of Columbia.

And SolarCity, one of the few clean-tech start-ups to find a market for an initial public offering of its stock last year, will potentially gain access to tens of millions of new customers through Honda’s vast lists of current and previous owners.

“When we partner with financial institutions, they aren’t promoting us to their customers, they’re essentially just providing us with capital,” said Lyndon R. Rive, SolarCity’s chief executive. But with Honda, he said, the company is gaining, “access to a broader customer base, and a customer base that is conscious of the environment.”

“I don’t think that by finding Honda buyers you’ve homed in on the perfect solar customer, but there’s enough overlapping between the demographics that you’re better off than the general population,” said Shayle Kann, vice president at GTM Research, adding that car buyers were more likely to own their homes and have the income and credit history to qualify for solar leasing.

While the American solar industry in general has been struggling in the face of declining government subsidies, overcapacity in production and a glut of inexpensive Chinese panels, interest and investment in solar leasing, or third-party ownership, has continued to grow. According to a recent report from GTM Research, a renewable energy consulting firm that is a unit of Greentech Media, third-party ownership accounts for more than 70 percent of all residential installations in developed markets like Arizona, California and Colorado and has generated at least $3.4 billion in private investment since 2008.

SolarCity and a rival, Sunrun, were among pioneers of the approach, but players like Clean Power Finance and Vivint, a home security company owned by the Blackstone Group, are also gaining momentum.

In a typical arrangement, a company provides a system at little or no cost in exchange for a long-term contract in which the customer pays a fixed fee for the electricity generated, set at less than the customer would pay for power from the local utility. The solar price often rises over the life of the agreement, which can last 20 years.

The two companies say they hope the joint venture leads to projects that integrate solar power and electric vehicle recharging for its customers.

The program will give Honda and Acura customers an extra $400 discount on top of SolarCity’s normal promotions, which they can use to sweeten the terms of the solar contract, like eliminating the escalation of the monthly payment. Honda projects the fund can finance as many as 3,000 systems on homes and 20 for its dealers. If the program catches on, Honda plans to expand it. Executives said they saw more immediate promise in cutting carbon emissions through solar power than the electric vehicles it would sell.

Abridged from an article in The New York Times.  Link to the original below.




GINN: Impact Investing To Grow 12% in 2013

10 01 2013

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The Global Impact Investing Network (GINN) – in partnership with JP Morgan – has published a new report “Perspectives on Progress” surveying impact investment trends.  The survey indicates that respondents report that they committed $8 billion to impact investments in 2012, and plan to commit $9 billion in 2013.

As defined by GINN, “Impact investments are investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. They can be made in both emerging and developed in markets, and target a range of returns from below market to market rate, depending upon the circumstances.”

96% of survey respondents say they measure their social/environmental impact of their investments and four out of five fund managers highlight the importance of impact measurement for raising capital.  The survey measured the behaviors and attitudes of a total of 99 investment organizations.

Sixty-four percent of equity investor respondents stated that they had at least one, if not many, investments significantly outperform their financial return expectations while delivering the expected impact.  When asked about their top motivations for impact investments, investors cited commitment to being a responsible investor, efficiency in meeting impact goals and financial attractiveness relative to other opportunities as the top three reasons for making impact investments.

Interestingly, Sub-Saharan Africa received the largest percentage of impact investments with 34%.  Latin America and North America tied with 32% of impact investments.  Oceania came in last with only 5% of the investments.

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You can download a copy of the GINN report here.





A4S REPORT: Future Proofed Decision Making

3 01 2013

“There was a time when we could say that there was either a complete lack of knowledge, or at least room for doubt, about the consequences for our planet of our actions.

That time has gone.

We now know all too clearly what we are actually doing and that we need to do something about it urgently. Better accounting must be part of that process.”

Prince Charles, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales

The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) commissioned research into which types of information may be most effective in driving the integration of environmental and social factors into Board level decision-making.  The A4S research indicated that:

1. There is a growing recognition of the changing business landscape and a potential need for changes to decision-making processes and strategic objectives to reflect new risks and opportunities.

2. The business case for the inclusion of environmental and social factors at Board level is not yet clear, particularly for many CFOs, due to uncertainty around the relevance of these issues to their organization.

3. Environmental and social information is often assumed to have been formally considered by the CSR / Sustainability team (with sometimes limited impact on the wider business) before decisions reach Board level. Information is typically presented as traditional sustainability data e.g. tonnes of carbon — with little alignment to strategic objectives or financial information.

4. Scepticism over the quality and robustness of many types of environmental and social data is preventing more widespread use.

5. A belief among respondents that expressing many environmental and social factors in financial terms can be counter-productive as data can be viewed as unreliable, spurious or unethical.

6. A perception that action can be left to successors who will understand these issues more fully.

The A4S research highlights that there are a number of barriers to overcome before the majority of organizations truly integrate environmental and social factors into decision making, including:

Demonstrate the business case

There is a need to articulate more clearly the commercial rationale for incorporating social and environmental factors into decision making to help ensure that organizations are aware of the risks to mitigate and the opportunities to grasp over the short, medium and long term.

Speak the right language

Narratives that are aligned with the needs and ‘language’ of business need to be developed. These need to be focussed at a sector and organizational level and grounded in commercial understanding.

Develop more robust information

Organizations should work with existing collaborations to develop commonly agreed methodologies to value environmental and social inputs and impacts in financial terms. These should clearly demonstrate the link to an organization’s strategic objectives and financial performance, either directly or via reputational impact. They should work with others to develop a wider set of tools that enable future risk, opportunity and uncertainty to be incorporated into decision making processes.

Bridge the knowledge gap

The need for skills expansion at Board level and within the finance and accounting community should be recognized and addressed.

Create an enabling environment

Organizations need to be given clear signals to drive more sustainable behaviour, including the need to align national and global frameworks with business incentives and performance measurement systems.

Access the full report below.

Prince Charles Photo Credit:  The Guardian





Climate Counts: 15 Companies “Soaring” With Climate and Energy Strategy

8 12 2012

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In its 6th annual report, Climate Counts (CC) has released it scorecard of 145 companies’ performance of publicly available information regarding their efforts to reduce green house emissions, support the need for a comprehensive climate policy and report its progress.  15 of those companies have received a score of “soaring” by CC for their leadership and innovation in reducing their impact on the environment.

Unilever leads the pack with an amazing score of 91 (out of 100).  Here are the rest of the “soaring” companies:

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In the report, Mike Bellamente, Director of the non-profit Climate Counts, said, “Business leaders are making remarkably innovative progress to minimize waste, employ renewable energy, and design products with a lower carbon impact – all while turning a profit and growing their business. As the economy shows limited signs of improvement, top performers on our scorecard are demonstrating that economic prosperity and environmental sustainability can be achieved simultaneously. We would call that a win-win if it weren’t for the great distance we still have to go in squaring up human consumption with the true carrying capacity of our planet.”

However, some companies are “stuck” according to the CC report.  Among the least improved companies are some household brand names that people should re-consider their patronage based on their lack of progress in assessing and responding to their impact on the environment.  The fast food sector  is particularly guilty of ignoring its impact on climate change as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s all squarely in the bottom six companies that rank as least improved over the six years of the Climate Counts reports.

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Cheers to the “soaring” companies and jeers to those that are “stuck”. according to Climate Counts.

Read the Climate Counts Report here.





Re-Thinking Consumption: 66% of consumers agree we need to consume less to improve the environment.

29 11 2012

 

According to the newly released The Regeneration Consumer Study, two-thirds of consumers in six countries say that “as a society, we need to consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations” and that they feel “a sense of responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society”.

In a statement, Mark Lee, Executive Director at SustainAbility said, “Our economy and natural environment are facing unprecedented stresses as scarce resources are stretched to meet growing needs.  Through the Regeneration Consumer Study, we are revealing how consumer attitudes, behaviors and collaboration can help enterprising brands as they work to innovate smarter, safer, cleaner and greener solutions.”

The findings are based on an online survey of 6,224 consumers across Brazil, China, India, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States conducted in September and October 2012.

Among other key insights in the global consumer research:

  • Nine in ten consumers believe it is extremely or very important for companies to address safe drinking water.
  • 67% are interested in sharing their ideas with companies to help them develop better products or create new solutions.
  • 75% of consumers globally agree they would purchase products that are environmentally or socially responsible if they didn’t cost more.

The study also draws five key implications for marketers to connect with these consumers who are demonstrating strong desire for responsible brands.  In summary, they are:

1.  Deliver total value.

2. Connect back story to brand story

3. Embrace sustainable brand innovation.

4. Harness consumer collaboration.

5. Unleash the power of tribes.

 

Read a copy of the research report here.

 

Congratulations to the drivers behind the research and their sponsors.  Learn about the developers and their sponsors below:

Developed by BBMGGlobeScan and SustainAbilityThe Regeneration Consumer Study is an in-depth online survey of consumer attitudes, motivations and behaviors relating to sustainable consumption among 6,224 respondents across six major international markets (Brazil, China, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States) conducted in September and October 2012. Drawn from consumer research panels, global data are comparable to having a margin of error of +/- 1.3 percent. Analysis of country-level data reflects a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.

The study is part of the The Regeneration Roadmap, a collaborative and multi-faceted thought leadership initiative designed to engage the private sector in advancing sustainable development by improving sustainability strategy, increasing credibility and delivering results at greater speed and scale.

Presenting Sponsors of The Regeneration Roadmap are BMW Group and SC Johnson. Sponsors include Cisco, DuPont, Interface and Pfizer. The Regeneration Consumer Study is sponsored by Brown-FormanCampbell Soup CompanyItauL’OréalShell and Starbucks.

 

 

 





SIF Foundation: Sustainable and Responsible Investing Up 22%

27 11 2012

Two hands hold euro coins where a plant starts to grow

Sustainable and responsible investing (SRI) accounts for 11.23 percent of all assets under professional management in the United States at year end 2011. According to the report, $3.74 trillion out of $33.3 trillion of investment assets is held by individuals, institutions, investment companies or money managers that practice SRI strategies.

This total, an increase of 22 percent since year end 2009, reflects growing investor interest in considering environmental, community, other societal or corporate governance (ESG) issues to refine how they make decisions as they select and manage their portfolios or raise their voices as shareholders.

The new 2012 Report on Sustainable and Responsible Investing Trends in the United States, released today by the US SIF Foundation, found that the total net assets of both mutual funds and alternative investment funds that consider ESG criteria increased significantly:

Mutual Funds: $641 billion, a doubling from 2010.

Alternative Investment Funds: $132 billion, a 250 percent increase from the corresponding assets identified at year-end 2009.

The report also found sizable growth in financial institutions that have a mission of serving low and middle-income communities:

Community Development Banks: $30.1 billion, a 74 percent increase since 2010.

Credit Unions: $17.1 billion, a 54 percent increase from 2010.

Importantly, the report found a significant increase of institutional investor assets involved ESG criteria related to environmental issues since the last report published in 2010.  It now represents $636 billion, 43 percent increase from 2010. Climate change is now considered by 23 percent of institutional asset owners incorporating ESG criteria.

In a statement, Lisa Woll, CEO of US SIF said, “The 2012 Trends report demonstrates that we are moving closer to a sustainable and equitable economy.  From the growth in mutual funds that consider ESG criteria and increased investment in community development banks and credit unions to increasingly large votes on shareholder proposals and the availability of sustainable investment options across asset classes, SRI strategies are on the rise in the United States. We are pleased that this report details many important and interrelated trends that indicate that sustainable and responsible investing will continue its impressive growth and impact.”

About US SIF:

The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment is the US membership association for professionals, firms, institutions and organizations engaged in sustainable and responsible investing. The 2012 Report on Sustainable and Responsible Investing Trends in the United States is a publication of the US SIF Foundation, a 501c3 organization that undertakes educational, research and programmatic activities to advance the mission of US SIF.

 





Cone: Americans more than twice as likely to buy from companies that promote CSR progress and results.

9 11 2012

Cone Communications has released the results of its new Corporate Social Return Trend Tracker showing that 86% of consumers are more likely to trust a company that reports its corporate social responsibility results.

In a statement, Cone Communications’ Executive Vice President Craig Bida said, “Stakeholders play more powerful roles than ever in a brand’s overall success or failure and they must be consistently engaged in a company’s CSR efforts and results from the outset.  They need to feel a benefit. This mutual return will become the new table stakes for differentiating CSR efforts.”

Some of the other interesting insights from the research include:

  • 84 percent of Americans hold companies accountable for producing and communicating the results of CSR commitments by going beyond the mission to robustly communicate progress against well-defined purpose.
  • 82 percent say they are more likely to purchase a product that clearly demonstrates the results of the company’s CSR initiatives than one that does not.
  • 84 percent recognize that for a company to make societal impact, it must also realize a business return, such as increased revenue or reduced costs

Importantly, the study also underscores continued consumer confusion regarding CSR and where to find the results and reports on CSR efforts.  And documents how CSR efforts need to be communicated and more core to any company’s brand marketing efforts.

  • 63 percent say they don’t know where to find information about a company’s CSR efforts and results
  • 55 percent don’t understand the impact they are having when buying a product from a company that says it is socially responsible.
  • 40 percent say they will not purchase a company’s products or services if CSR results are not communicated

“This shift in stakeholder expectations carries significant implications for companies engaged in CSR,” says Cone Communications’ Executive Vice President Jonathan Yohannan. “Purpose is no longer enough, and successful campaigns must demonstrate return for business, brand and society. ‘Proving purpose’ is the new mantra for effective CSR.” “Companies need to build customized output and outcome measurement components and identify projected stakeholder return at the outset of campaign development, and then track progress along the critical CSR pillars of business, brand and society,” adds Yohannan. “With the stakes so high, measurement can’t be an afterthought or add-on.”

Read the press release from Cone on the research here





GfK Green Gauge®: Green is going mainstream, but don’t expect a premium.

24 09 2012

In their new Green Gauge research released today, GfK reports significant progress in the developing green culture in the United States, but also highlight findings that many consumers are increasingly resistant to pay more for “green products”.

In a statement, Timothy Kenyon–Director for the Green Gauge survey–said, “Green awareness is indeed pervasive – but consumers can perceive ‘green’ claims as a negative in some contexts.  For example, while terms like organic and recyclable have strong positive resonance, they are often associated with higher prices. Understanding consumers’ triggers and the limits of their commitment to green action is essential for marketers and researchers alike.”

The study shows that 73% of US consumers have purchased a product made from organic materials in the past 12 months. Categories that have seen notable increases since 2007 in organic buying include food, household cleaning, apparel, and pet food and supplies.

In addition, 93% of Americans say they have done something to conserve energy in their households in the past year, and 77% have done something to save household water during the same timeframe.

The study also reports that digital media are helping to amplify this green awareness:

29% of smartphone users have turned to an app in the past year to help reduce their environmental impact – a figure that jumps to 44% for Generation Z (ages 18 to 22) and 38% for Generation Y (ages 23 to 32).  Most-cited types of apps used include public transportation timetables and home energy monitors.

In addition, 18% of consumers say that social networking sites are a “major source” of green information for them (up four points from 2011), with another 33% citing it as a “minor source.”

GfK points out that green awareness and engagement do not necessarily translate to green purchase. Compared to 2008, the proportion of US consumers willing to pay more for environmentally friendly alternatives has gone down in a variety of key areas — from cars that are less polluting to the air (down from 62% to 49%) to energy efficient lightbulbs (down from 70% to 60%).  (examples are cited below in this infographic from the Advertising Age article linked below).

According to GFK, The Green Gauge® Report is the only nationwide, long-term syndicated study of consumer attitudes and behaviors towards the environment. Green Gauge gives marketers an exclusive look at how America’s concern for environmental issues can affect brands and organizations.

Read a related article to the research in Advertising Age here.





World Water Week: The Relationship Between Water and Food.

28 08 2012

If the wars of the 20thcentury were fought over oil,

the wars of this century will be fought over water.

 The World Bank

World Water Week is sponsored by the Stockholm International Water Institute and is being conducted this week in Stockholm.  World Water Week provides a unique forum for the exchange of views, experiences and practices between the scientific, business, policy and civic communities. It focuses on new thinking and positive action toward water-related challenges and their impact on the world’s environment, health, climate, economic and poverty reduction agendas.

This year’s program is focused on Water and Food Security.  According to the SIWI, water interventions for food security, at production and household levels, need to focus on improved nutrition, better health, critical bio-diversity and sustainable livelihoods, achieving co-benefits for environmental as well as human health.

Says SIWI, “The food production in the world is more than enough to feed all its inhabitants properly. Yet, a billion are undernourished, around two billion are overeating, and staggering amounts of food are lost or wasted. In addition, food alone will not eradicate hunger as up to 50% of malnutrition is related to unclean water, inadequate sanitation or poor hygiene.”

Wonderwater:  An initiative to educate and inspire.

One group that is pioneering the campaign to raise awareness about the relationship between water and food production is the U.K. based Wonderwater.They have created public awareness campaigns and interactive learning opportunities to help educate people about the food and water.

How much water do you eat? This is the question posed by Wonderwater to consumers, businesses, politicians and NGOs around the world, as the pressures of population growth, climate change and water scarcity continue to pose serious challenges to our future food security. The group uses creative, thought-provoking design exhibitions and striking café installations to stimulate conversations relating to the water footprint of food, prompting visitors to consider how much of the world’s scarce fresh water (which represents just 3% of Earth’s water) are required to produce the food we consume.

Wonderwater’s latest project is another of its Wonderwater Cafe’s.  In September 2012 Wonderwater Cafe will arrive in London at Leila’s Shop in Shoreditch. Leila McAlister’s responsibly sourced and seasonal menu will be utilized to illustrate how much water it takes to produce our favorite foods, and highlight the importance of considering water consumption when making culinary decisions.

Learn more about Wonderwater Cafe London here

Read more about Wonderwater at 2degrees with blogger Katharine Earley





Method: Progress On Ocean Plastic

24 08 2012

It has been almost a year since innovative and inventive household cleaning products manufacturer Method announced its campaign to utilize reclaimed ocean plastic for its packaging.  In a recent article on Greenbiz,com, Drummond Lawson, the director of sustainability at Method, provides a progress report on the sustainability initiative.

.Commercializing the rising tide of ocean plastic

Lawson writes:  “Method has participated in, alongside partners Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and Kahuku Hawai’i Foundation, several beach cleanup days that resulted in collecting several thousand pounds of beach debris. The primary challenge encountered in these cleanups, aside from hauling hundreds of pounds of plastic from remote beach locations, has been retrieving the plastics before they degrade to tiny particles that are effectively impossible to collect in large quantities.

The range and quantity of plastic in the oceans is astounding. The debris collected from these beaches has varied from fishing baskets made of polypropylene to Russian shampoo bottles and Japanese bleach bottles made from HDPE, to car bumpers, ropes, water bottles, and buoys.”

Method product engineers are exploring ways to enhance the durability of their ocean plastic packaging.

“Method’s team of People Against Dirty love our work on the Ocean Plastic project because it brings together three things that characterize our company and how we work,” says Lawson.  “First, it addresses a real and material environmental problem — in this case, the accumulation of persistent plastics in the environment. Second, it relies on solid science and creativity to generate a solution. And third, it integrates sustainability into an innovative, effective, and engaging product design.”

Kudos to Method for this creative commitment to sustainability that enriches both the planet and people by repurposing plastic which represents so much damage to the environment and danger for ocean habitat.

Read the full article here.





Ekocycle: will.i.am and Coke inspire sustainable behaviors

1 08 2012

Coca-Cola is collaborating with musician and producer will.i.am along with other iconic brands to inspire a global movement with the launch of Ekocycle, a brand initiative dedicated to help encourage recycling behavior and sustainability among consumers through aspirational, yet attainable lifestyle products made in part from recycled material.

The Ekocycle brand initiative was developed to educate consumers about everyday recycling choices and empower their purchasing decisions as part of a social change movement, The Coca-Cola Co. says. The initiative supports recycling by helping consumers recognize that items they consider waste today can be part of a lifestyle product that they can use tomorrow. The Ekocycle brand initiative will identify products, such as assorted plastic bottles and aluminum cans, that can be repurposed into recycled content for fashionable and valuable lifestyle products. It also will encourage demand and use of recycled materials, and reinforce the importance of recycling finished products, the company says.

“With the Ekocycle brand, I’m on a mission to educate and inspire consumers around the globe to seek out more sustainable lifestyle choices that will ultimately play a part in the movement toward a world with zero waste,” will.i.am said in a statement. “By making products that contain recycled materials more attractive to both businesses and consumers, everyone can do their part to keep the cycle going to turn discarded waste into cool, new items. The Coca-Cola Co. shares this vision and together working with local communities worldwide we will showcase the greater value of recycling, as well as selecting products that feature recycled materials.”

Beats by Dr. Dre and New Era are the first brand partners to join the Ekocycle brand initiative. As a part of the partnership, these collaborative efforts will produce on-trend products made partially from recycled materials. Consumers can purchase Beats by Dr. Dre headphones this fall. New Era hats and other yet-to-be-announced Ekocycle products will be available in early 2013.

“The Ekocycle brand initiative is a platform that aligns with our vision of zero waste and our focus on sustainability,” said Bea Perez, vice president and chief sustainability officer for The Coca-Cola Co., in a statement. “Together with will.i.am, we will promote recycling in a unique way with other well-known brands to create lifestyle products that consumers worldwide desire. Today’s generation of young consumers represents an active force and the Ekocycle brand aims to be a driver in rallying their support and efforts around a global sustainability movement.”

The Coca-Cola Co. will donate its portion of licensing profits from the Ekocycle brand initiative to support additional recycling and community improvement organizations. It also will make a minimum $1 million financial commitment in the next five years. This donation is in addition to, and separate from, the charitable commitments of 1 percent of operating profits made through The Coca-Cola Foundation, the company says.

Earth911, host of the one of the largest recycling directories in the United States with more than 1.5 million ways to recycle, will provide an interactive and searchable recycling directory for consumers accessible at ekocycle.com.

“Recycling is one of the easiest sustainable actions consumers can take, but without real-time access to local options, people are often left confused and frustrated,” said Raquel Fagan, vice president of media for Earth911, in a statement. “The Ekocycle brand initiative takes a forward-thinking approach and demonstrates how companies can play a role in eliminating this confusion and empowering consumers.”

On Aug. 1, the Ekocycle brand will premiere its first 60-second TV commercial that will air in the U.S. market during the telecast of the Summer Olympic Games. A full-scale marketing, advertising and online campaign will follow.

To learn more about the Ekocycle brand initiative, visit ekocycle.com.

Original article in Beverage Industry





Interbrand: Toyota is world’s best green brand.

8 07 2012

Interbrand has crowned Toyota as the number one green brand in the world.

In a statement, Interbrand reports:  “Automotive and technology brands dominate the ranking. Toyota maintains the number one spot, continuing to make environmental sustainability a core management priority. The original Prius model — the primary launchpad for Toyota’s green image — has recently been expanded to encompass an entire family of sustainable automobiles, including the company’s first plug-in model. This year, Toyota also achieved near zero-landfill status at all of its North American manufacturing plants, and continues its commitment to build LEED certified buildings and dealerships.”

Here are the rest of the top green brands as ranked by Interbrand.

Learn more about the Best Green Brands from Interbrand.





Ha Ha Yes Men: Shell Arctic Ready Hoax Was Masterful.

17 06 2012

The elaborate hoax that the Yes Men created – a faux ad campaign and official looking website for a supposed Shell Arctic Drilling campaign – fooled this blogger…and thousands of others.  We congratulate the Yes Men for their energy and creativity in coming up with a public relations approach that seemed all too plausible.  But Shell’s response may be just as stupid as if the campaign was real.

The campaign was created by Greenpeace and the Yes Men.

go behind the scenes at the Greenpeace website.

According to Wikipedia, The Yes Men operate under the mission statement of telling the truth and exposing lies. They create and maintain fake websites similar to ones they intend to spoof, which have led to numerous interview, conference, and TV talk show invitations. They espouse the belief that corporations and governmental organizations often act in dehumanizing ways toward the public.

In this highly provocative and realistic campaign they created against Shell, they certainly got a lot of attention to the issue of oil drilling in the fragile Arctic environment.  One of our favorite “ads” follows:

However, what may be even more perplexing than the hoax was the lack of any detectable response from the victim – Shell.

Are any of their PR wags on-line?  Are they tone-deaf to the internet?  Silence is golden?  Any brand under such devious assault needs a plan to respond.  From now to years to come, the assets created by this Yes Men hoax will be circulating with apparently a “mums the word”  response from Shell.  I stand behind the original post:  a most stupid brand is Shell.





Edelman Good Purpose Study: 87% of people believe business should place equal weight on business and society.

29 05 2012

In a massive global study surveying more than 8,000 adults in 16 countries, Edelman’s 2012 Good Purpose Study tracks people’s increasing belief that business bears a weight to contribute to society.

  • 76% of people believe it is ok for brands to support causes and make money at the same time (up 33% from 2008).
  • Yet only 28% of people believe business is performing well in addressing societal issues.
  • 53% of people believe Social Purpose is the most important decision criteria in buying a brand when price and quality are the same (up 26% from 2008).
  • 51% believe business should donate a portion of profits or products/services to address societal issues.
  • 80% of people believe it is critical for businesses to make the public aware of the efforts they are making to address societal issues.
  • 52% of people believe its equally important to address issues “that impact me personally and society overall”.
  • 89% of people worldwide report that they take part in activities to address social issues.

You can access a slide show summary of the survey here.





EIRIS: Puma Is The World’s Most Sustainable Corporation.

3 05 2012

In researching more than 2,000 large global corporations, EIRIS has ranked the top ten global companies when it comes to sustainable practices.  No U.S. based companies were ranked in the top ten.

Puma was ranked first based on its exceptional environmental management systems and reporting practices.  It also has comprehensive policies for equal opportunity employment, workplace health and safety, and workforce training and development.

The rest of the most highly ranked sustainable companies included:

  1. Puma (Germany)
  2. First Group (UK)
  3. National Australia Bank
  4. GlaxoSmithKline (UK)
  5. Roche (Switzerland)
  6. Novartis (Switzerland)
  7. Phillips Electronics (Netherlands)
  8. Deutsche Boerse (Germany)
  9. NovoNordisk (Denmark)
  10. The GoAhead Group (UK)

The EIRIS research also ranked corporate sustainability performance by geographic region, with companies from the United Kingdom getting the greatest number of A grades, while only 2% of U.S. companies received an A.  The vast majority (91%) of U.S. based companies received a C or lower grade.

You can read the EIRIS report here.





Gibbs & Soell: Only 21% of Americans Believe Business Is Committed To Going Green.

2 05 2012

In their 2012 Gibbs & Soell Sense & Sustainability study, the research demonstrates that public doubt that corporations are making a sincere commitment to going green continues to run high.

Despite their skepticism, the majority (71 percent) of consumers wants to know more about what companies are doing to become sustainable and green, and 75% feel the media are more likely to report on green business when the news is bad rather than good.

Read the summary report and news release announcing the results of 2012 Gibbs & Soell Sense & Sustainability Study at these links.

Key Findings:

  •  The general public and business leaders remain skeptical of corporate America’s commitment to sustainability. Only 21 percent of U.S. adults and 25 percent of executives believe that a majority of businesses (“most,” “almost all,” or “all”) are committed to “going green” – defined as “improving the health of the environment by implementing more sustainable business practices and/or offering environmentally-friendly products or services.”
  • While one-third of executives report having no green steward, up from years past, there is a trend toward dedicated teams for those who do. This year’s results show that 34 percent of executives indicate there is no one at their company who is responsible for sustainability or “going green” initiatives, up from 25 percent in 2011. More than one out of five (21 percent) corporate leaders report there is a team of individuals whose jobs are specifically and solely dedicated to sustainability, up from 17 percent in 2011 and 13 percent in 2010.
  • Most consumers and business executives also believe corporate sustainability activities are more likely to be covered by the media when the news is bad than good. The number is comparatively higher among consumers who are confident in corporate America’s commitment to “going green.” Three-quarters (75 percent) of U.S. adults and 69 percent of executives feel the media are more likely to report on “bad news” than “good news” when covering how companies are addressing efforts to “go green.” Specifically among the 21 percent of consumers who believe “most,” “almost all,” or “all” companies are committed to “going green,” 83 percent feel there is a bias for bad news in the media.

 Said Ron Loch, senior vice president and managing director, sustainability consulting, Gibbs & Soell. “The results reveal growing efforts by business communicators in relating their corporate responsibility stories, but also underscore a deficit in general understanding and trust.  It’s clear much more needs to be achieved in terms of relevant engagement with consumers and the media around corporate sustainability.”





Nielsen: The Global, Socially Conscious Consumer

28 03 2012

In a new global research report, Nielsen has identified a segment of the population they call the Global Socially Conscious Consumer.  

  • Two thirds (66%) of consumers around the world say they prefer to buy products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society. 
  • They prefer to work for these companies (62%), and invest in these companies (59%). 
  • Still nearly half (46%) say they are willing to pay extra for products and services from these companies. 

In the study, respondents were asked if they prefer to buy products and services from companies that implement programs that give back to society. Anticipating a positive response bias, respondents were also asked whether they would be willing to pay extra for those services. For the purposes of this study, Nielsen defines the “socially conscious consumer” as those who say they would be willing to pay the extra.

According to Nielsen, “Cause marketing won’t work with all customer segments—some simply don’t care—but the research suggests that there is a segment of socially conscious consumers that cause marketers should pay attention to.”

New findings from a Nielsen survey of more than 28,000 online respondents from 56 countries around the world provide fresh insights to help businesses better understand the right audience for cause marketers, which programs resonate most strongly with this audience, and what marketing methods may be most effective in reaching these consumers.

Thanks to a tweet from our friend John Gerzema for pointing us to this research which he believes is in line with the findings in his book Spend Shift.

 

 





Ogilvy Earth. Mainstream Green. Bridging the Green Gap.

27 03 2012

A major new research report was issued this week from marketing agency Ogilvy Earth studying the barriers to mainstream consumers acceptance of sustainability behaviors and enlightened brands.

The focus of the study was both in the United States and in China, two of the most populated and carbon intensive countries in the world.  In the chart below, the report shows that the majority of people surveyed recognize the importance of living a sustainable lifestyle, a gap exists between knowledge of its importance and actual behavior.  The gap is 14% in China, and more than double that – 30% – in the United States.

In analysis of the research, Ogilvy Earth observed what this blogger has believed for 3+ years:

“The marketing communications industry knows how to do this. We popularize things; that’s what we do best.  But we need to embrace the simple fact that if we want green behaviors to be widespread, then we need to treat them as mass ideas with mass communications, not elite ideas with niche communications.”

In their analysis, the researchers found that “82% of Americans have good green intentions, but of those 82%, only 16% are dedicated to fulfilling those intentions, putting 66% firmly in this middle ground.”  As indicated in the chart about.

In their conclusions, the report’s authors identify 12 key ways they believe the Green Gap can be bridged.  They conclude:

1. Make it normal.

2. Make it personal.

3. Create better defaults.

4. Eliminate the sustainability tax.

5. Bribe shamelessly.

6. Punish wisely.

7. Don’t stop innovating.  Make better stuff.

8. Lose the crunch.

9.  Turn eco-friendly into male ego-friendly.

10. Make it tangible.

11. Make it easy to navigate.

12. Tap into hedonism over altruism.

For more detail and explanation on these intriguing and provocative gap bridging strategies, read the entire research report here.

Mainstream Green Report from Ogilvy Earth





Conference Board: What Board Members Should Know About Communicating CSR.

23 03 2012

In a significant white paper directed to corporate board members, The Conference Board has challenged directors to be aware of the benefits of corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies and the challenges of communicating those actions to key stakeholders in the enterprise.

While the business benefits of CSR activities are now well-documented, the report says, “…communicating these activities are far from simple. If stakeholders perceive a lack of clarity regarding the company’s commitment to CSR, doubt the effectiveness of its CSR initiative, or miss the connection of a certain sociality activity to the core business, a backlash can occur.  CSR communication must overcome stakeholder skepticism to generate favorable CSR attributions.”

The report identified 6 key recommendations for board members to provide guidance for communicating CSR strategies:

1.  Seek CSR activities that fit into the business strategy.

2.  Emphasize CSR commitment and impact to foster consumer advocacy.

3. Seek credibility through the support of independent, external communication sources.

4.  Encourage employee and consumer word-of-mouth.

5.  Select social initiatives with high issue support.

6. Be mindful of stakeholder perception of business industry.

Here is a chart demonstrating how companies are

currently communicating CSR activities.

We are still surprised how passive and latent the CSR communications activities are.  The Conference Board recommends in their research that more consumer engagement is a critical next step to elevate CSR attribution and success.

The report says “a company’s CSR positioning can significantly amplify the effectiveness of CSR communication.  Stakeholders are likely to pay more attention to a comprehensive and coherent CSR message and believe in the authenticity of the social commitment.”

In other words, CSR should become a cornerstone asset in the brand’s equity and marketing focus.

The Conference Board Report Is Here.





UN Global Compact: 29 Laggard Companies Pressured On Sustainability Reporting.

21 03 2012

 

In a press release issued last week, the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment indicated a coalition of global investors is pressuring 29 laggard companies who have not published sustainability reports to keep their promises, while lauding nearly 90 companies who are identified as leaders in advanced level reporting.

A summary of the press release follows:

(London, 15 March 2012) – A coalition of global investors from 12 countries managing over US$3 trillion of assets today added its voice to increasing calls for better corporate reporting on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) activities.

The coalition of investors, all signatories to the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment, is writing to 118 UN Global Compact companies with a combined market cap of an estimated US$2.59 trillion, to either:

  • welcome advanced-level reporting, or, conversely,
  • challenge non-communicating companies to regain full participant status.

This is the fifth year that investors have engaged with Global Compact participant companies on the issue of transparency. Each of the 29 laggard companies, with a combined market cap of an estimated US$136.9 billion, are participants of the Global Compact, but have failed to produce the mandatory annual report that communicates their progress on corporate sustainability. The Global Compact recently announced that it has expelled 3,123 companies since 2005 for failure to communicate progress on their efforts to implement its ten sustainability principles.

From 2008 through 2011, the engagement resulted in an average 40.1 percent of laggard companies subsequently submitting their sustainability reports; this has included firms such as BHP Billiton, Aker Solutions, Severn Trent, Merck Kga, Oriflame Cosmetics, The Gap and LVMH. The status of all companies included in last year’s engagement can be found here.

In addition to writing to laggard companies, the investor coalition has acknowledged 89 leader companies with a combined market cap of an estimated US$2.45 trillion who have been identified as advanced-level reporters.  These leaders include Novo Nordisk, Enel, Daimler, Nestle, Telefonica and Siemens. A full list of this year’s leaders can be viewed here.

Steve Waygood, Head of Sustainability, Research and Engagement at Aviva Investors, one of the investors involved in the coalition, said:
“Since we first proposed this initiative over five years ago it has gone from strength to strength, successfully encouraging some 40.1% of companies over the past five years to make good on their reporting commitments to the UN Global Compact. This bodes well for the discussions at the forthcoming UN Rio+20 conference in June, where corporate reporting on sustainability performance is appropriately high on the agenda of the 193 Member States that will be assembled.”

James Gifford, Executive Director of the PRI added,
“After the global financial crisis many investors believe that improved corporate disclosure of ESG issues leads to better risk management, good governance and enhanced transparency, all of which are necessary to protect long-term returns. Companies that would attract investors need to recognise this if they want to attract capital.”

Gavin Power, Deputy Director of the UN Global Compact added,
“Corporate sustainability implementation and disclosure both lie at the heart of the UN Global Compact. At the upcoming Rio+20 Summit, there will be an opportunity for governments and public policy makers to fully take stock of the rapidly evolving trends in business sustainability and responsible investment — with an eye towards creating new incentives to drive higher levels of sustainability performance and disclosure. We encourage investors to actively participate in the Rio+20 process, and welcome their contributions”.

The PRI and Global Compact initiatives are engaged in a number of mutually reinforcing activities, including an investor engagement urging companies around the world to sign onto the UN Global Compact. As of November 2011, this engagement saw 211 of the targeted companies join the Global Compact.