Last week, McDonald’s USA announced the launch of a new Happy Meal Books promotion, coinciding with National Family Literacy Day on Nov. 1. From Nov. 1–14, Happy Meals will be accompanied by one of a series of four original books designed to encourage children to eat right and be more active.As part of the launch of Happy Meal Books, McDonald’s is collaborating with Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the largest children’s literacy nonprofit in the U.S., to help more children and their families discover the joy of reading. RIF will distribute 100,000 Happy Meal Books to children who do not have easy access to books.
Heading into this year’s Sustainable Brands conference, I was looking forward to driving BMW’s electric prototype that was on display. In hindsight, however, the technical highlight of the show for me was the Tesla Model S. You know, the ones that people were actually driving, with coffee cups in the console and crumbs in the backseat.
The field of environmental sustainability is fraught with emotional issues: climate change, water shortages, population growth, food purity, animal extinction … the list goes on and on.These complex issues are intricately entwined with national economics, social mores, political and religious beliefs and fear.Clients are always asking us to develop “education” campaigns to change attitudes or behaviors, thinking (logically) that if people only understood the facts, they’d change their behavior.
New research released last week explores the latest views of leaders in the study of encouraging more conscious and responsible behaviour. The Motivating Millions research, conducted by UK behaviour change consultancy Corporate Culture, was carried out online between March and May of this year. A quick distillation of the research reveals seven themes:
Psychologists have found that buying life experiences makes people happier than buying possessions, but who spends more of their spare cash on experiences? We now know that extroverts and people who are open to new experiences tend to spend more of their disposable income on experiences, such as concert tickets or a weekend away, rather than hitting the mall for material items.In a recent study, we examined the responses of people who completed online questionnaires about their shopping habits, personality traits, values and life satisfaction. These habitual “experiential shoppers” reap long-term benefits from their spending: They reported greater happiness.
More than half (56 percent) of diners would pay more for a meal if they knew the restaurant was investing in reducing its environmental impact and taking its social responsibility seriously, according to new research from the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). Some 43 percent of diners would pay up to 10 percent more for a meal in a sustainable restaurant.The Discerning Diner: How consumers’ attitudes to eating out have become more sophisticated is based on the findings of consumer research by the SRA, which was supported by Unilever.
Sustainability, like brands, must not be a fight against or a vision outside society, but part of it. It is time to drop the proselytism, quit the “sacrifice for a better world” argument and above all stop trying to change people’s behaviours. In order to fully go mainstream, sustainability shouldn’t attempt to influence behaviour and, instead, make ‘the greener option’ desirable for everyone. Moreover, historically, experiments of standardization have often resulted from totalitarian regimes to dull aesthetics.
“If we can’t get the consumer involved, we will always be behind the curve,” Marks & Spencer CEO Marc Bolland said when he launched the retailer’s ‘Plan A’ sustainability stakeholder consultation.The logic is compelling. Changing customer behavior is a natural part of the sustainable business strategies businesses must create to achieve long-term success. And instead of being seen as an extension of CSR strategies they will be seen more as Long-Term Marketing strategies that are creating the company’s preferred future operating environment.
AT&T has partnered with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to encourage AT&T customers to skip the bag when purchasing items from its retail stores in Oregon by donating 10 cents to the Nature Conservancy for each check out bag its customers choose to forego.AT&T says its “Skip the Bag” campaign, which runs from now through January 31, 2014, is part of an effort to empower customers with sustainable choices, increase efficiency and minimize impact on the environment. The program is designed to support The Nature Conservancy's efforts to protect and restore the lands and waters on which all life depends.
The Foundation for Enterprise Development (FED) has published a paper that explores the roots of representative structures and argues that a democratic approach to business governance is crucial to long term innovation.Sustained Innovation through Shared Capitalism and Democratic Governance evaluates the role of research, innovation, organizational structures and associated issues in addressing the long-term focus required for development—both material and human.
Fifty percent of global consumers are willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society, according to a new study from Nielsen.The Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility polled more than 29,000 Internet respondents in 58 countries. The percentage of consumers willing to pay more increased among both males and females and across all age groups, with respondents under age 30 most likely to say they would spend more for goods and services from companies that give back. Among consumers ages 40-44, 50 percent agree they would pay more, up from 38 percent two years ago.
Johnson & Johnson has started to phase out the use of polyethylene microbeads in beauty products, and is working on an eco-friendly alternative, after activists from environmental group the 5 Gyres Institute found large amounts of the beads in the Great Lakes.Microbeads are used in beauty products as a means of scrubbing away dead skin. After being washed down the drain, the plastic beads are too small to be adequately captured by wastewater treatment and end up in rivers, lakes and the ocean.
In driving engagement and behavior change, the power is often in the subtleties. So here’s a little thought that just might be a big thought: As we work toward mainstreaming sustainability, we should stop talking in terms of should, and instead we ought to start speaking in terms of ought.Here’s what I mean. “Should” makes a demand on us that comes from outside us, and often from above us. Authority figures tell us we “should” clean our room, do our homework, be home by eleven, eat less, move more, live with less, choose wisely and recycle. We feel it pressing upon us as one more thing to add to our list of things to do, or to refrain from doing, to win favor and avoid guilt.
As businesses and brands reach out to influence consumers’ interactions with products at home, they’re missing a trick by not learning from different cultural contexts. This article shares the findings from pioneering user-centred research into laundry behaviours in Brazil, India and the UK, and offers seven guidelines for creating household products that encourage sustainable behaviours during the use phase.Household laundry behaviours in India, Brazil and the UKThe in-depth, user-centred research focused on 19 middle-income households in Loughborough, UK; Bangalore, India; and Curitiba, Brazil. In-context interviews, observation, household tours and laundry diaries were used as a tool to understand the laundry process.
Michael Murray is the president and co-founder of Lucid, a software company providing real-time information feedback designed to “teach, inspire behavior change, and save energy and water resources in buildings.” Since the company’s founding in 2004, over 275 schools and organizations have adopted Lucid’s Building Dashboard, which it describes as a social network for buildings that allows people to view, compare, and share resource usage data online.
As my Green Marketing students are learning, companies large and small are reducing their carbon footprints by adopting strategies to make their operations, goods and services more environmentally sustainable. But with the world population headed towards eight billion, marketers also recognize the important role that consumers play through their usage and disposal of products. To nudge consumers towards less wasteful behavior, take some advice from social marketers — make it easy, fun and popular.Easy Does It
Marks and Spencer (M&S) recently piloted training toolkits for its supplier factories in the UK and Sri Lanka, as part of its Plan A commitment to being a Fair Partner. These toolkits were a result of a collaborative design process between M&S and its factories, led by A Very Good Company (AVGC). The process of co-creation has helped to engage suppliers with M&S’s sustainability agenda, leading to the creation of a product that connects with the needs of M&S, its factory managers and their employees. This collaborative approach to creating behaviour change within a factory environment has transferable learning for brands as they seek to engage consumers with new, more sustainable propositions.
I was asked recently about my favourite behaviour change stories in the energy space. I didn’t have to think long: my favourite is the one about the £200-a-year towel rail. Yep, you heard that right: a towel rail.
Bob Dylan understood the sustainability challenge long ago when he sang, “People seldom do what they believe in / They do what is convenient, then repent” in “Brownsville Girl.”For sustainability to become mainstream, we need to reframe the debate — in terms of both language and relevant benefits. I believe mass-market and well-loved brands are best placed to drive and accomplish this critical shift.So do we just need to leverage brands to make people care about the environment?
Consumer behaviour change is the challenge of our time. An effective response will require increased capacity and capability across the sector: more skills, different skills and more people with those skills. If we are to achieve this, we need cross-sector collaboration with strong, independent leadership.