Section IV: Customer and Stakeholder Effects

For Sustainability-Driven Innovators, customers are at the center. These companies are 80% more likely to increase collaboration with customers as a result of sustainability than are companies that did not change their business model. They are also much more likely to collaborate with competitors, suppliers and across their own business units.

AT&T, for example, has consumer advisory panels that include both end users and businesses. The panels’ goal is to understand customer decision-making processes and then determine the best way to communicate the company’s sustainability values. Like many other companies, AT&T realizes that customers are moving targets and their competitors are also aiming at them. As Michael Bremans at Ecover puts it: “All your activities need to be centered on customer expectations. Even without legislation and regulation, consumers are looking for sustainable lifestyles and the demand is going to grow faster and faster.”

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References

1. PepsiCo, "Purpose," n.d., www.pepsico.com.

2. There are many business model frameworks to choose from. See, for example, H. Chesbrough, "Open Business Models: How to Thrive in the New Innovation Landscape" (Boston: Harvard Business Press, 2006); M.W. Johnson, C.M. Christensen and H. Kagermann, "Reinventing Your Business Model," Harvard Business Review 86, no. 12 (December 2008): 50-59; A. Osterwalder and Y. Pigneur, "Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers" (Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, 2010); P. Lindgren, R. Jørgensen, Y. Taran and K.F. Saghaug, "Deliverable D 4.1 Baseline for Networked Innovation Models," NEFFICS Consortium, 2011; R. Amit and C. Zott, "Creating Value Through Business Model Innovation," MIT Sloan Management Review 53, no. 3 (spring 2012): 41-49; and Z. Lindgardt, M. Reeves, G. Stalk and M. Deimler, "Business Model Innovation: When the Game Gets Tough, Change the Game," Boston Consulting Group, December 2009.

3. N. Kruschwitz, "Why Kraft Foods Cares About Fair Trade Chocolate," MIT Sloan Management Review, September 12, 2012, http://sloanreview.mit.edu/feature/why-kraft-foods-cares-about-fair-trade-chocolate/.

4. L. Brokaw, "Marks and Spencer's Emerging Business Case for Sustainability," MIT Sloan Management Review, July 13, 2012, http://sloanreview.mit.edu.

5. Regulators, NGOs and the media are not driving the focus for Sustainability-Driven Innovators. However, our study found that companies less successful at sustainability business-model innovation are 25% more likely to be influenced by legislative and political pressures than Sustainability-Driven Innovators are, and 72% more likely to be driven by the need to maintain operating licenses.

6. N. Kruschwitz, "New Ways to Engage Employees, Suppliers and Competitors in CSR," MIT Sloan Management Review, November 14, 2012, http://sloanreview.mit.edu.

7. Some recent research using highly rigorous randomized field experiments shows that people are willing to pay premiums. See J. Hainmueller and M. J. Hiscox, "Buying Green? Field Experimental Tests of Consumer Support for Environmentalism," http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2062429.