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Sustainable Business Strategies: A Conversation on Social Responsibility at the Better Business Bureau Forum

Sustainability and social responsibility continue to be areas of interest and growth for corporations. Now more than ever, companies connect environmental, social and governance (ESG) opportunities with their business practices, since consumers are gravitating toward sustainable and environmentally friendly products. In order to target and attract the informed consumer, businesses need to bring sustainability into strategic conversations and identify the efforts that matter most for their organization.

Leading experts in the ESG area recently gathered in New York City for the BBB Forum on Corporate Responsibility to discuss these new sustainably minded consumers and what qualities they look for when making their shopping decisions. Topics of conversation included the sustainability journey over the last 10 years, plastic waste and how consumers are becoming more sustainably driven as shoppers.

The BBB is a nonprofit organization with a mission of advancing marketplace trust. This year’s forum, “The Megatrends: Shaping the CSR Agenda,” highlighted the importance of developing sustainable business strategies and investing in long-term corporate social responsibility (CSR) growth. 

As one of the main sponsors of the BBB, Nielsen joined the forum to share insights on sustainable shoppers and how they vote with their wallets when making purchasing decisions for themselves and their families. Among the panelists and guest speakers was our own Julia Wilson, Vice President of Global Responsibility & Sustainability. During her presentation, Julia shared Nielsen’s latest data on sustainability and explained how spending is tied to feeling good about the environment. 

Most importantly, Julia discussed the latest insights on responsible governance and related purchasing. According to the latest Nielsen data, the average shopper will spend $150 billion on sustainable products by 2021, and about 73% of consumers claim that they are willing to change their purchasing habits to reduce the environmental impact.

Research shows that it’s no longer enough for a company to pick only one responsible strategy and promote a single environmental effort. Today’s sustainable shoppers are digitally engaged and care about a company’s resource management and supply chain, as well as its efforts to be an overall good citizen. Luckily, the spectrum of corporate responsibility is extremely broad. Companies can tackle different strategies to satisfy consumers’ sustainability demands, which include ethics, fair trade, social responsibility and others. 

Based on her expertise and the latest Nielsen data, Julia explained that while corporations need to adopt transparency, they should also cater to their own clients and understand how certain ESG areas can affect their products more than others. Customizing an overall strategy that tracks what shoppers’ respond to and value the most is the key to long-term success. 

“What’s healthy for me is healthy for we” is the new mindset of sustainable shoppers, and this mantra affects their interests in topics such as the global health crisis and the well-being of their local communities.