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At 2017 Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit, CEO Mitch Barns Makes the Business Case for Sustainability

Speaking to an audience of hundreds of global leaders on June 23, our CEO, Mitch Barns, shared a powerful analysis detailing how investing in sustainability efforts can help companies drive growth, profitability and value.

From the mainstage in at the 61st Global Summit of The Consumer Goods Forum in Berlin, the largest gathering in the world of CEOs and senior executives in the consumer goods sector, Mitch outlined three key data-backed truths:

  1. Sustainability is a worldwide concern;
  2. Consumers are putting dollars behind their values; and
  3. Social responsibility enhances corporate reputation and drives shareholder value.

He highlighted Nielsen research that demonstrated a clear path to revenue associated with sustainability initiatives. This included data that shows sustainability is a growing concern that in every region around the world and that an increasing percentage of consumers say they are willing to pay extra for goods and services from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.

As it turns out, products with sustainability claims are demonstrating growth faster than the overall market.

After delivering his presentation, Mitch was joined on stage by Grant Reid, CEO of Mars, and Per Strömberg, CEO of retailer ICA Gruppen, where they discussed the topic in detail with moderator Alex Thomson, Presenter & Chief Correspondent, ITN’S Channel 4 News.

All three CEOs agreed that no one could afford for sustainability to be an afterthought or an add-on in their business.

“If something threatens the planet, that seems like a pretty good thing to take a stance on,” Grant Reid said.

Asked for examples of how their companies carried out sustainability initiatives, Mitch detailed the ongoing relationships Nielsen has with the United Nations and non-governmental organisations where we provide free data access that enables much more efficient allocations of food and water to those in need.

Mitch also spoke of the hands-on approach Nielsen takes toward the issue with Nielsen Global Impact Day—the day in the year when we close our business to work in local communities around the world. He noted that the day is a chance for all our associates to give back but that it also builds team spirit and energy with associates in all of Nielsen’s markets.

Along similar lines, Per Strömberg made it clear that sustainability efforts work best as a team sport and that companies should be looking to partner in this area to speed up the work.

And Mitch agreed. He observed that we’ve increasingly seen clients require that their partners be committed and invested in sustainability initiatives. Similarly, he noted that investors in companies are also expecting such commitments.