Nestlé and Unilever lead the pack when it comes to the biggest 10 consumer goods producers, according to an Ethical Corporation analysis, but even the laggards are trying to up their game
Sustainability at big consumer goods companies once meant little more than coming up with some form of recyclable packaging and putting money into meaningful philanthropy. No longer. As Will Hailer, head of consumer goods at OC&C Strategy Consultants points out, the goal posts have moved and these days such efforts don’t make the grade.
At a time of growing realisation of the toll our voracious consumption patterns are taking on our resource-constrained planet – coffee, for example, is now the most valuable commodity after oil - consumers want to know that the companies that produce their favourite brands are making serious efforts to address their impacts in their manufacturing practices and supply chains.
And companies have every reason to listen. A 2015 Global Sustainability Report from the US consumer research agency Nielson found that 66% of consumers were willing to pay more for a sustainable brand, up from 55% in 2014. Among millennials, 73% were willing to pay a sustainability premium.
But failure to step up to its social and environmental responsibilities has far more serious implications than losing market share to a greener competitor. Former BP CEO John Browne argued in his book Connect: How...