Today, it’s impossible to hit the market and not to notice the increasing range of products with green logos and eco-labels. In their quest to find staples that could feed the world’s hunger in a “sustainable” way, scientists (probably mad ones) have come up with a slew of weird food products, ranging from crunchy bugs and fried silk worms to sea slime and cockroach milk – Urgh!!!
But that’s not the only thing that have a weird sustainability claim on; researchers have designed eco-friendly remote controls, eco-friendly pet furs, eco-friendly earrings and now…eco-friendly burial systems. However, I really wonder if these new products are meant to positively contribute to a permanent change in the way the world thinks and operates or is it just a megatrend that’s fueling consumption and benefitting business magnates?
What Is a Megatrend?
Everyone knows the meaning of “trends” and sometimes we try to avoid being part of them. However, compared to trends, megatrends cannot be avoided. A megatrend is a long-term trend that has a long-lasting effect on every society and economy. It is a huge movement that has the power to shape the business world for a very long time and redefine consumer behavior. Whether you want it or not, you’ll always end up being part of megatrends (passively or actively). For example, you can decide not to be a part of a Wear-Velvet fashion fad, but you cannot decide not to be part of a megatrend because it is too omnipresent.
In the past, some of the megatrends that the world faced were rapid urbanization, automation, computing technology and social media and today, a new one is emerging in the area of the environment. It’s called “sustainability.”
Sustainability as a Megatrend
Sustainability in itself is a very vast concept, which is the reason why it has become one of those words that can mean anything, depending on one’s personal opinion and emotional feelings. By default, many are unaware that sustainability is a concept that is defined by our current means of meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. “If you burn coal to make electricity or if you use petrochemicals to make plastic, it’s unsustainable” – that’s the world’s definition for something not sustainable, but in my own words, I’d say, if you use up a resource and there is no replacement for it, it’s what I call unsustainable. Or, another way to put it, I’d say, unsustainability can also be defined as a very unhealthy over-consumption trend. And, isn’t that a reality today?
The term “sustainability” may have arose from the world’s need to protect the planet and its resources, but it has also, unfortunately, become part of a much broader and much deeper business model. The true application of sustainability is running in our society as an advocate for companies and consumer products.
During the last decade, an increasing number of companies have been changing their business models, business practices, industrial processes, corporate governance and much more towards a more sustainable way. Walmart, Adidas, 3M, Philips, Proctor & Gamble, Boeing and Cisco were some of the early adopters of business sustainability, but now, more leading companies like Apple, Patagonia, Google and even Amazon have pledged to reduce their carbon footprint and help in making the world a better place.
Personally and honestly, I think many of us have been “fooled” by these marketing tricks. Business owners didn’t just incorporate sustainability throughout their organizations just to protect and conserve the earth’s resources. Initially, many of them were reluctant and due to consumers’ pressure, they were forced to change their processes and products, only to realize the powerful impact of sustainability on their organizations, products and profits. Due to its tremendous benefits on customer satisfaction, community relations and profitability, sustainability has become a money-making tool for business owners. And, this marketing trick is somehow successful because consumers today are even willing to pay more for eco-friendly products.
You see, the purpose of this article series is to help you understand how businesses are using sustainability to fuel consumption and reap the benefits of this consumption. And, if you want to learn more about their marketing tricks, come back for part 2!