2012-05-22

Co.Exist

3 Game-Changing Insights For A Sustainable Future

Hear how three companies are planning to adapt to the future while continuing to make their products more sustainable (and more lucrative).

Prior to every year’s Sustainable Brands conference, I interview the show’s keynote speakers. This exposes me to the innovations these business and sustainability leaders are presenting at the podium.

These are insights any business person hoping to futureproof their brand would be wise to heed. While most of them are manifested in trials and pilots today, they might well be game changers tomorrow.

Insight 1: Future Simple

Jeff Walter of HP explains that one of company’s most successful new sustainability programs has been one of the most common sense.

Paper use is key to HP products. Unfortunately, eco-anxiety has led many printer users to fret over every page. This, at least in part, explains the rise of tablets and e-readers.

Rather than abandoning printers, however, HP has embarked on a twin track of innovation. Along with exploring radical ideas like flexible displays, the company is using education and incremental innovation to ease consumers into more responsible behavior. Double-sided printing, energy efficient printers, and partnerships with sustainable-forest NGOs like FSC are all examples of this common sense progress. Coupled with entertaining consumer education programs (check out the Lorax project), this approach demonstrates the viability of simple, common sense progress.

Insight 2: A New Twist On Values

Uwe Dreher is head of marketing at BMW i. This project from the carmaker is building a new generation of performance electric vehicles from the ground up, and funding ventures that redefine mobility beyond the idea of the car.

Dreher says, BMW was inspired by a small--but growing--demographic that seemed to exhibit a conflicting value system. The green affluents, as Dreher labeled them, lived in comfortable luxury, but eschewed luxury vehicles to drive "downmarket" hybrids.

The behavior didn’t make sense when you considered traditional affluent or green behavior. However, it pointed to a niche that could soon become a very lucrative target market. A market into which BMW i is about to tap.

Insight 3: The Future Is All Around Us


Sean Gourley and his company Quid specialize in creating market insights using data, high-powered computing, sophisticated algorithms, and good old fashioned human intuition.

Gourley underlines the fact that the future is indeed all around us. The problem is that we haven’t tuned our instincts to pick up on it. For example, the rise of social media was apparent years before the phenomenon went mainstream. As Gourley says, these billion dollar companies were once million dollar companies, filing for patents, staffing up, and going through all the motions of companies onto a hot thing.

Gourley went on to venture that one of the biggest market trends in the coming years would involve online privacy. Are you investors paying attention?

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1 Comments

  • Kestrel Jenkins

    Definitely digging the simplicity and "common sense" approach to a sustainable future - glad to see it's starting to be deemed as the obvious direction forward.