Jeremy Osborn and Demitri Fierro
Published 8 months ago.
About a 8 minute read.
As Brand-Led Culture Change continued, we heard from a number of players touching retail on how they’re nudging consumers toward more climate-friendly purchases and shifting the model
to create a more just and inclusive shopping experience.
Sille Krukow details some of the nudging techniques used at Coop Denmark | Image credit: Jeremy Osborn
Allison + Partners’ Whitney Dailey
led this fascinating discussion about a high-impact behavior-change partnership
between Krukow Behavioral Design and Coop Denmark
— a 1000+-store, member-owned grocery cooperative with 2 million members. Coop
provides in-store food shopping experiences to more than 5 million customers
every week and has thousands of global suppliers.
Jonas Engberg, Head of
Climate at Coop, explained how the retailer has prioritized consumer behavior
change as a key pillar of its climate strategy — as 50 percent of its emissions
reductions (read: Scope
need to come from behavior change in the next decade. Engberg walked the
audience through Coop’s methodology, its climate targets, and its commendable
progress to date. He highlighted how in many instances, lower-carbon food
choices are actually higher-margin products — making them a win-win for the
company’s bottom line. Carrots, for example, have a higher contribution margin
than beef; as does chicken. As a result, the company promotes these products as
low-carbon shopping choices and tries to “nudge” customers towards them while in
Krukow principal Sille Krukow
explained that their collaborative approach — which can be adapted to suit any
retailer — was based on research, experimentation, data collection and iterative
intervention. She described how consumers have a bias towards the status
and how quickly they can become overwhelmed and revert to normal behavioral
patterns if too much information is provided and/or not presented through a
simple visual vocabulary.
Join us for a transformational experience at SB Brand-Led Culture Change — May 8-10 in Minneapolis. This event brings together hundreds of brand leaders eager to delve into radical lifestyle shifts and sustainable consumer behavior change at scale. The trends driving cultural acceleration are already underway, and you can be at the forefront of this transformative movement.
She also described a number of specific examples of “nudges” that direct Coop
customers towards lower-impact options — including placing clearly labeled
low-carbon food choices near popular products such as bananas, or having the
natural flow of the store experience start with low-carbon food choices and end
with higher-carbon food choices. The results have been promising — with shoppers
in trials significantly reducing the carbon footprint of their in-store food
choices, while also helping Coop increase margins and drastically reduce CO2
emissions and food waste.
Image credit: Andrea Bova
Retail is something we all encounter. From fashion to grocery chains, we are
consistently engaged with products and services competing for our attention.
Conscious consumers are becoming more aware of their purchasing decisions every
day and increasingly seek out brands that align with their values. Many —
including sustainability nonprofit Forum for the
Future — now find themselves wondering if
retail can be a vehicle in shaping a just and regenerative economy. In another
interactive Tuesday afternoon session, Forum Chief Executive Sally
Uren and sustainability
strategist Natasha Mehta shared
their latest thinking on how retail models can enable stakeholders to live a
good life within planetary boundaries and how they can be accelerated.
Three key ingredients are considered key components of a just and regenerative
economy in the retail sector — resource-efficient business models, leveraging
emerging cultural shifts, and centering equity. Regarding resource-efficient
business models, the Forum team highlighted examples including
dematerialization, peer-to-peer, made-to-order, and repair &
When it came to the other two components, cultural shifts and equity, there
emerged an overlap on what is proposed and prioritized — such as how we can
drive contentment, connection, diversity and belonging. As changemakers come
together to reimagine an economy that is equitable and just, a key element is
driving availability to underserved markets — identifying citizens that are not
being served by retailers due to factors such as geography, income, specific
needs and more.
Uren highlighted the need holistic approaches to tackling structural inequity to
be centered around “building greater awareness and sensitivity to structural
drivers of inequity and injustice and proactively seeking to address them.”
These principles and models were then applied by attendee groups within the
session, formulating how a business model can be used to drive growth while
having equity principles centralized and woven throughout.
Image credit: Logitech
Brands are being called upon to demonstrate their values every day. Consumer
demand for sustainable, productive and socially impactful initiatives continue
to guide purchasing decisions. As society is more interconnected than ever
before, a yearning for authenticity and transparency continues to soar as
consumers become more passionate about their sustainability journeys. One way to
assess the level of transparency and authenticity for a brand's commitment to
sustainability is through third-party certifications, in the form of eco-labels.
Through the implementation and certification of eco-labels, brand equity
increases, better customer experiences are had, and progress is made on
sustainability goals at the same time.
In this Wednesday afternoon session, Amazon and Logitech discussed what
eco-label certifications mean to their brands, what is working well and what
could be done to improve moving forward., and
Each brand shared key insights on the state of eco-labeling, from the general
consensus on the reality of the climate crisis in Europe to the increasing
scrutiny around having more stringent regulations on climate disclosures.
Moderator Tristan Forester from
ClimatePartner started off the
discussion by pointing out that “You can't climb Mount Everest in a day, but you can
start at base camp in a day.” Each company echoed this sentiment by sharing the
importance of starting a climate-action journey today with the resources
currently available at your disposal. Logitech Head of Sustainability Robert O’
Mahony reminded us of a
time when nutritional value was not disclosed on the back of food packaging.
Today, consumers are fully aware of what goes into the foods they purchase —
which is what Logitech wished to emulate when it became the first consumer
electronics company to provide detailed carbon-impact
on product packaging across its entire portfolio. By providing consumers with
information about the product footprint and life cycle, Logitech gives a silent
promise that it aims to improve over time. As O’Mahony put it, “The whole reason
we are doing this is to get better. Today is the story of progress, the next one
is the story of impact.”
Zac Ludington — Head of Growth for
Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly (CPF)
— noted how many consumers are voicing their preferences for sustainable brands
and products. As evidenced by the amount of visibility website traffic gives to
CPF products at checkout, there is a strong case for ROI. Ludington shared that
whille the program is impressive to date — with over 300,000 products by 20,000
brands vetted by 52 product certifiers — Amazon is looking to publicize its
standards and provide greater transparency so customers can make even more
The speakers agreed that everyone deserves to be considered and informed on how
products and their impact affect them; so, certification is a means to share
sustainability information with their customers and empower suppliers. But
raising the bar on transparency and accountability should not stall progress. In
today’s literal and social climate, every brand on the planet is encouraged to
have a sustainability program and verification to show for it.
“If you have an active role in shaping demand, use it for good,” Ludington
asserted. “Incremental benefit at scale is a good thing.”
With the movement towards third-party certification growing, seeing improvements
in how to quantify and validate sustainable progress is highly valued. There may
be an opportunity to find commonalities across sectors as companies look to
raise the bar, sharing impact while communicating the progress to get there.
“By 2050, we all have to be part of the club,” Forester called out. While years
away, the call for action today has never been greater. There must be a
trajectory for the standards currently available and what they can aspire to;
and certifiers have the unique opportunity to tailor their approach to certain
industries and product categories. Every industry addresses certain pain points;
so, brands must make sure their certification is holding them and their industry
accountable to ensure trust is maintained.
When asked about the future of eco-labels in consumer
speakers all agreed on the need for brand teams to remind themselves of the
spirit in what you are working to achieve and making those goals accessible to
everyone involved in achieving it; eco-labels are only as good as the
relationships of the people involved.
“We need suppliers. Retailers used to be fighting against each other — now, they
are sitting in a roundtable and working with suppliers on how they can rescue
their carbon footprint together,” Forester said.
Ludington concluded by proclaiming, “Don't make the mistake thinking that sustainability
can't pay for itself. There is a business case for this.”
Consumers want to see where their money is going when they make a purchase. If
they feel they are contributing to a solution each time they reach the checkout
counter, they will continue in that decision-making. Eco-labels, as they are,
provide that reassurance when transparency is woven throughout and
accountability is prioritized above all else.
Published May 30, 2023 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST
Jeremy Osborn is a NYC-based entrepreneur and and senior consultant with a background in marketing and communications, tech, strategy, governance, and sustainability. He holds an MA in Resources, Environment, and Sustainability from the University of British Columbia and has worked for leading brands in a wide range of industries and sectors — including food and ag, consumer goods, built environment, industrial manufacturing, energy, finance, transportation, and more.
Demitri Fierro recently earned an MBA in Sustainable Solutions from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. For the last two years, he has served as Program Manager for the Consultancy Shadowing Program, as well as sustainability consultant for a variety of clients. Determined to apply his background to bring sustainable solutions to storytelling and media, he is a contributor for the Environmental Media Association in Los Angeles. When he is not working to solve the climate crisis, he can be found journaling, enjoying a nice hike, watching a basketball game or learning about anthropology at a local museum.