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13 Hot Research Reports on Corporate Sustainability Issues, Tools and Trends

As the fourth and final piece in our 4-part series of ‘hot lists’ (check out our other picks for hot products, books and business model innovations), this week we introduce 13 hot research reports tracking the state of various aspects of corporate sustainability, as well as respective consumer attitudes and behaviors.

As the fourth and final piece in our 4-part series of ‘hot lists’ (check out our other picks for hot products, books and business model innovations), this week we introduce 13 hot research reports tracking the state of various aspects of corporate sustainability, as well as respective consumer attitudes and behaviors. Each of these studies will be represented by its authors, as well as its key stakeholder groups, at Sustainable Brands ’13 in San Diego, CA, June 3-6. Without further ado, here is a wealth of knowledge you won’t want to miss:

  1. The 2013 Sustainability Leaders Report, by GlobeScan and SustainAbility, presents a well-respected and well-founded snapshot of the current state of sustainability leadership in the private sector, as well as among top actors in the scientific community, the non-profit community, multilateral organizations, nationally elected government officials and social entrepreneurs. The results are based on a survey of a large pool of established sustainability experts from the corporate world, government, non-governmental organizations, academia and the media.
  2. Natural Capital at Risk: The Top 100 Externalities of Business, by Trucost and the TEEB for Business Coalition, dives into a deeply complex but absolutely vital topic that many believe will make or break the future of sustainability: identification and valuation of the world’s biggest natural capital risks for business, investors and governments. This effort comes well-complemented by another recent TEEB report, in partnership with InnovaStrat: Organizational Change for Natural Capital Management: Strategy and Implementation.
  3. Rethinking Consumption: Consumers and the Future of Sustainability, a joint project by GlobeScan, SustainAbility and BBMG, identifies and discusses, among other important insights, a crucial consumer segment known as The Aspirationals. As the largest consumer segment globally — rising particularly rapidly in China, India and Brazil — these style and social status-seeking consumers love to shop, and also feel a sense of responsibility to make purchases that are good for the environment and society.
  4. The Climate Meme Report, by DarwinSF, shares results from a fascinating research effort to map the landscape of ideas that help or hinder action on climate change. The project stemmed from the authors’ realization that global warming doesn’t spread well on its own as a fundamental unit of culture, or a cultural meme, and needs help to create ripples that transform our political and economic institutions.
  5. Rethinking Sustainability: Brand Risks and Opportunities, by Verdantix (who will present a webinar on the topic this Wednesday), helps executives responsible for sustainability communications, and their colleagues across communications, marketing and sustainability teams, to understand the different strategic approaches, the risks and opportunities, and the business case for enhancing communications to support the corporate brand.
  6. The Havas Media Meaningful Brands Survey, which contacted 50,000 people in France, Spain, the UK, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, China, Japan, India and the U.S., finds that only 20% of the brands consumers interact with have a positive impact on their lives. The results also famously showed that 70% of brands could disappear entirely without people noticing. Here is a lovely Youtube video explaining the thinking behind the Meaningful Brands approach to studying consumer attitudes.
  7. The latest annual Eco Pulse report, by the Shelton Group, which finds that Americans’ biggest ‘green’ guilt is wasting food and other fascinating nuggets illuminating the true market potential for green products and the messaging required to get them chosen at shelf.
  8. Putting Purpose in Marketing, a study conducted by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and Edelman, concludes that marketing professionals are vastly underestimating the importance of purpose-driven marketing and responsible brands to their consumers.
  9. Sustainability and the State of the Future Youth Culture Study, powered by Label Networks’ diverse data-acquisition sources, analyzes 56 million young American people between the ages of 13 and 25 on topics regarding how youth culture cares, buys and acts on sustainability and the impact this will have in the future.
  10. The Myth of the Sleeping Giant, by Saatchi & Saatchi S, lays out a carefully constructed and data-backed argument in favor of the claim that Latinos are the fastest-growing segment the sustainability industry has (n)ever seen in the United States.
  11. sSWOT: A Sustainability SWOT, by the World Resources Institute, is a handy guide facilitating work across internal corporate departments — as well with suppliers, customers or other stakeholders — in the implementation of WRI’s ‘sustainability SWOT’ (sSWOT), a tool designed to help drive action and collaboration on environmental challenges that create real business risks and opportunities.
  12. Resilience and Growth through Supply Chain Collaboration, by Deloitte, follows up on many companies’ recent recognition that “they are their supply chain” from a brand perspective, and proceeds to lay out four key steps to effective supplier collaboration.

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts, so please let us know what you think in the comments section below or through our social media channels.

A New Era for Brand Integrity: Navigating the Greenhush-Greenwash Spectrum

Join us as leaders from Republik, NielsenIQ, Conspirators, Henoscene, be/co, The Guardian and Room & Board analyze what newly expanded notions of brand integrity mean for brands, and how to be smarter about picking language choices that avoid the dangerous extremes of greenhushing and greenwashing — Thurs, May 9, at Brand-Led Culture Change.