The face of sustainability is changing, according to a new report by Boston Consulting Group and MIT Sloan Management Review. In a worldwide survey of more than 1,000 executives and managers, BCG and Sloan took the pulse of sustainability efforts. Their research shows that sustainability is steadily growing in importance and is being integrated into the mainstream of corporate strategy. Most importantly, the key drivers of sustainability are evolving.
Customer preference leads the way.
In the early days of corporate sustainability work, companies focused on easy changes that cut operating costs while benefiting the environment. Energy-saving came first: replacing light bulbs, upgrading HVAC and improving logistics. But that's changing, perhaps because the low hanging fruit has mostly been picked. Now, more companies are discovering that their customers have a preference for products that are more clean, safe and sustainable. Many customers will pay more for sustainable products and services, and they prefer to buy from companies that provide them.
The power of customer preference comes through loud and clear in the survey results. Customer preference and customers' willingness to pay a premium was the single most important factor driving sustainability efforts, as shown below: