Sustainability has become a business imperative

Six key areas for sustainable businesses operations.
19 December 2022
Tanya Whitehead

Vice President, Insights Division, Canada

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At the moment, brands have no bigger opportunity for growth and value than sustainability. The evidence is clear: what is good for sustainability is also good for growth. Indeed, a comprehensive Harvard Business Review assessment of existing studies found “a positive impact on business performance” from sustainable business practices. Researchers attributed this success to greater stakeholder engagement, improved risk management, better innovation, improved financial performance, greater customer loyalty, and a better ability to attract and engage talent.

In order for businesses to operate in a sustainable way, they need to address at least six key areas:

  1. Where to play. Brands should understand what they need to focus on first and address those needs in an authentic way.
  2. Purposeful impact. They should create something meaningful that will have an enduring impact.
  3. Purposeful innovation. They should develop a relevant portfolio. They need to reinvent everything and bring that innovation to the forefront.
  4. Customer change. Customers should understand the brand’s commitment to change. Even though the push for sustainability comes from the entire ecosystem of a brand, marketers still need to migrate customers’ perceptions, engagement, and expectations.
  5. Employee inspiration. Brands should inspire purposeful employee change agents. Talent is the biggest battleground of sustainability, both in recruiting the best people and inspiring them for maximum impact in the marketplace.
  6. Measurement and learning. Brands should establish benchmarks, ongoing metrics, and a strategic feedback loop. Sustainability is a learning process that is uncomfortable. Companies are still figuring out what it means and what it takes. The sustainable future is evolving, so it is imperative to develop real-time assessment matched by agile responsiveness.

Companies that master these six imperatives will unlock growth through the value of good intentions and make a meaningful impact on the broader world. 

Learn more about how your business can keep its finger on the pulse of sustainability, mapping brand performance to sustainability issues and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals with help from Kantar.

Download Kantar's 2022 BrandZ Most Valuable Canadian Brands report to see which sustainable brands made the ranking.

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