Let dreams grow your business
We all have a dream. A dream of making the world a better place for everyone. Consumers and companies share the dream of the world being sustainable.
Fuelling that dream is of great frustration to many people. More than half of the population in the US, France, the UK and Germany believe that their country’s government is doing too little to combat climate change1. Companies face the same accusations by the public consumer2. In addition, the individual consumer feels a personal frustration towards the limited possibility of creating a bigger impact. However, one way for each of us to take action on a continuous basis is to make the active choice of being a sustainable consumer – to buy sustainable products from sustainable companies and thereby making a difference.
Companies also have dreams, and most companies do dream of having a positive impact on the world; taking action to deliver true sustainable value to their customers. This is partly because companies deep down are made of ordinary people who have dreams, and because we believe that businesses have a big impact and responsibility, but it is also because being a responsible business is good for business.
From our point of view, the most powerful way to create real change is to leverage the shared dream and transform the relationship with customers into a trust-based, mutual commitment benefitting both parties. This leaves us with the question of how to leverage that shared dream and use sustainability as a driver to engage customers in practice.
It is necessary to find pockets of shared sustainability value for you and your customers. Porter and Kramer highlight how companies can create shared value in three ways: by reconceiving products and markets, redefining productivity in the value chain and strengthening local clusters3. Shared value makes you connect and creates an anchor for collaboration. Examples of shared value are reducing the carbon footprint of a consumed product (compared to alternatives) or creating take-back schemes for products to reduce waste.
Customers should be able to almost feel, see and smell the sustainability value that the business delivers. Many customers have difficulties understanding the impact that sustainability efforts of companies actually have on their lives. At the same time, many businesses struggle to show how their sustainability efforts make a difference to their customers. Investing in green energy and communicating about it in annual reports do not connect with customers. By making it concrete, you make it real. Examples of tangible and perceivable value are sustainable packaging, carbon footprint labels on products or giving access to repair shops so that customers can have their clothes, furniture or power tools repaired.
The product and the customer experience should tap into your customers’ dreams and desires of a more sustainable world. This reflects in the way you engage with your customers in all aspects of the customer journey and their experience before, during and after purchase. Customers buy more than a mere product – they buy sustainable value. An example of making the customer experience part of the consumption is the feeling of belonging or making a difference when buying and consuming a product.
Engage in dialogues with motivated customers to ensure that you stay on top and act as a sustainability leader. Dialogue creates engagement. This fosters even stronger loyalty and joint engagement. Examples of invitation are co-creation of new, more sustainable products or giving customers a channel to express their dreams and concerns.
Tapping into your customers’ dreams and getting stronger engagement may create value in numerous ways:
When you dare to dream and ask your customers what they dream of, you create a strong link worth much more than just the payment for your product. This, in turn, strengthens your market position and creates new growth opportunities.
At Implement, we help companies formulate their dreams and set the strategic direction for reaching them. We believe that dreaming is important to creating a more sustainable world.
1 “DAVOS: Climate Change”, POLITICO and Morning Consult.
Read more on the POLITICO/Morning Consult Global Sustainability Poll here
2 Boston Consulting Group (2021). “Consumers Are Ready to Act to Combat Climate Change, but Companies and Governments Must Take the Lead”, press release, 22 October 2021, BCG.
Read the press release here
3 Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer (2011)."Creating Shared Value: How to reinvent capitalism — and unleash a wave of innovation and growth" in Harvard Business Review January-February 2011.
Read the article here
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