Sustainability as a
Uncertain times are also exciting times, with lots of potential for shake-ups in the market. As demand for sustainable products grows, supply must also rise to meet it. This presents an unparalleled opportunity for market expansion for companies able to step up, meet that demand and gain new customers.
Whether you begin to branch out into other areas or stay in your own market but simply adapt your production, make the most of this transformation.
“There have never been so many opportunities for companies across all industries to participate and contribute to a more sustainable and regenerative future. As more consumers and businesses put their money towards businesses that do good, there are multiple opportunities to increase market share by being the sustainable option.”
Salomon Salinas, Global Executive Vice President & North America Sustainability Lead at Capgemini.
Find your new niche and
promote it responsibly
Companies embracing sustainable business will enjoy a unique opportunity to carve out their own specialty within this sphere. For instance, an organization that trades in an industry that’s not traditionally seen as environmentally friendly, such as construction or automobile, could choose to focus on sustainable product development. Others could aim for sustainable services or acquisitions.
Companies should seek emerging areas where they know they can make the most impact. We see increasing numbers of companies looking to the bioeconomy, which would leverage biological resources, processes and methods to provide goods and services sustainably across economic sectors. The burgeoning bioeconomy has the potential to reduce both climate change effects and food insecurity, making it a doubly appealing option.
It is also important, as we move into a responsible future, that companies avoid overstating their environmental accomplishments. Consumers are increasingly savvy about what constitutes genuine results versus greenwashing. To gain new customers, or even simply to avoid losing loyal ones, organizations must be transparent in their communications around sustainability and decisively reject any form of greenwashing.
Trend watch 2023
New frontiers for R&D
In 2023, maintaining or increasing market share will naturally depend on innovation, research & development (R&D), and product design. Lifecycle assessment (LCA) is a particularly promising avenue.
Companies will be focusing more on product redesigns to eliminate fossil fuel-based feedstock sources, reduce the use of plastics, and deploy biodegradable packing. Thinking outside the (disposable) box will require vision from top leadership, as well as from direct managers who can understand and communicate that vision directly to designers.
As we’ve seen, greenwashing is a buzzy topic worldwide, and consumers will be on the lookout for successes and slip-ups. Some 47% of executives expect mitigating greenwashing to be the most disruptive trend in marketing and sales over the next three years. Prepare by defining and monitoring your organization's sustainability KPIs now, and prove to your customers and teams that your eco-initiatives are producing tangible outcomes in the near future. Only about half of organizations currently validate their sustainability reporting with a third party, so showing that you’re not stretching the truth will be key to beating the competition.
53% of companies highlight recycling as a core aspect of their manufacturing strategy
Tech for the planet
New technologies can support product design and marketing, and we see two major trends emerging. First, the digital and physical worlds are blending in tools like digital twins, AI and machine learning. Sustainability frontrunners, or companies that are at an advanced stage in their sustainability transformation, are leveraging these types of technologies to make operations and supply chains more sustainable. All of these can also be harnessed to support creative human thinking and help push ideas around products and marketing materials to the next level.
The second trend is bio-innovation enabling the creation or discovery of alternative materials. This is especially important in cases where production relies on scarce or emissions-intensive raw materials. As more companies turn to bio-innovation to support product design, we can expect to see the opening of exciting new avenues for production.
To help a company guard or grow its market share, leaders should be fully engaged and united.
If you're the CEO
As the Chief Executive Officer, your role is to champion environmental responsibility throughout the organization and making it a business priority.
Be ready to pivot the business model to one that centers issues of environmental impact.
Set clear priority guidelines to the rest of your organization to ensure they understand the impact of the business on sustainability challenges such as reducing carbon emissions and managing water conservation.
Think beyond net zero and work with your board to expand the sustainability strategy to encompass more than just climate change. Biodiversity loss is another critical challenge, which should be addressed through deforestation and land use management strategies, for example.
If you're the CFO
As the Chief Financial Officer, you can lend your expertise to the creation of well-informed sustainability targets.
You must establish sustainability reporting based on data that can be audited, that will paint an accurate and reliable picture of the company’s progress.
You already have your company’s KPIs and existing risk management practices clearly in mind. By taking the lead with your team in establishing and coordinating sustainability initiatives, you will be ensuring your company avoids pitfalls and continues to grow with the demand for your products or services.
If you're the CMO
The Chief Marketing Officer has a key role to play in ensuring the company’s efforts are perceived as authentic and impactful.
When preparing external and internal materials, you should always be clear about the high stakes of your work. Remind your teams that, in an atmosphere of increased vigilance from consumers, messaging around eco-initiatives will be thoroughly scrutinized. Encourage awareness and full understanding of the data as it is, without exaggeration.
You can also leverage your external-facing role to help educate consumers in how to live more sustainably. This will both help consumers and your company, by limiting indirect emissions.