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Behavior Change
Brand-Led Culture Change Key to a Flourishing Future

By prioritizing bold business imperatives and meeting deep human needs, brands can transform themselves into the leaders of a new, regenerative economy. But these initiatives cannot thrive in a closed system of communication.

As more and more people tune into headlines related to the climate crisis, mainstream narratives are influencing their underlying feelings of either optimism or doubt. While grappling with the uncertainty, many are left wondering why there aren’t better solutions and find themselves looking for ways to create a healthier future. Meanwhile, sustainability initiatives are well underway among many of today’s leading brands — creating opportunities for them to foster deeper connections with consumers to drive real-world impact through better product innovation and inspirational storytelling.

Global data from BBMG’s 2022 Leading Regenerative Brands study shows that 64 percent of adults over the age of 30 feel guilty about their negative impact on the environment; and in the US, Gen Z is five times more likely to strongly agree that they feel this guilt, compared to the Boomer generation. Through SB’s Socio-Cultural Trends research, we know that the number-two barrier to making more sustainable choices is simply not knowing where to start. This is where brands have the power to influence a culture of sustainable living while simultaneously deepening brand loyalty. This brand-led culture change can be achieved by meeting consumers where they are and providing them with authentic, impactful storytelling on product differentiation that supports their sustainability-focused ambitions, resulting in a positive impact for all.

During SB's 2022 Brand-Led Culture Change conference, a session led by BBMG’s Raphael Bemporad detailed Regenerative Leadership: Five Paradigm Shifts for Today’s Brands. In his opening remarks, he stated:

“Brand-led culture change is so profound in that brands are the unique entities in all of civilization, as far as I'm aware, that unites systems and stories. Brands are the manifestation of systems design — our business models, our supply chains, our stakeholder and shareholder networks. Brands are the vehicles for our sense of identity, for our sense of values, our aspirations, our sense of belonging, community and behavior — so, we're in the space in between an old way (that is increasingly showing its limits) and a new opportunity to rethink, to reimagine and to create ideas in this new context.”

What he is describing is a cultural system where brands step into their role as leaders of society to co-create a more sustainable era alongside their customers. BBMG’s research proposes five paradigm shifts that brands can make to create a more regenerative future:

  • Power: Giving voice, choice and ownership to those with the most at stake.

  • Space: Closing the distance between the people and places that make, sell and use brands.

  • Time: Slowing down, moving with intention, and becoming good ancestors.

  • Leadership: Welcoming vulnerability; embracing ‘not knowing’ and turning challenges into quests.

  • Relationship: Widening the circle of connection to thrive together with all of life.

The session went on to highlight the ways in which Ben & Jerry's Dave Rapaport and IKEA’s Malin Pettersson-Beckeman have implemented these paradigm shifts in their own brands to reset the relationship with consumers and lead on redesigning their systems and stories. IKEA, for example, has created five areas for consumers to focus on — energy, water, air, waste and food — and tailors its products and services to enable consumers to reduce their environmental footprint at home. With Ben & Jerry’s ambition to create regenerative ice cream, within the Power-shift paradigm it has implemented a program called Milk with Dignity — the first worker-created and -led set of labor standards in the dairy industry where the farmers are paid a premium and better working conditions are realized.

By prioritizing bold business imperatives and meeting deep human needs, brands can transform themselves into the leaders of a new, regenerative economy. But these initiatives cannot thrive in a closed system of communication: Brands must examine the landscape of consumer behavior as it relates to sustainable lifestyles, unlock tools that successfully move the needle toward sustainable consumer behavior, and tap into the education and inspiration needed to reach consumers and shift their aspirations and behaviors towards a flourishing future. Brand sustainability and marketing teams must align on best practices to bring sustainability-focused ambitions to life to create market transformation and sustainable culture change.

Dive further into this conversation while discovering more insights on how today’s brands can build a better tomorrow by attending SB’s Brand-Led Culture Change 2023 conference — May 22-24 in Minneapolis. Unpack the latest consumer trends; understand strategies and tactics that drive behavior change; and craft better communications through live sessions, workshops and industry forums presented by leading brand marketers and experts from around the world.