Importance of Understanding Consumer Trends

Accommodating and anticipating consumer trends is a crucial function of a successful business to retain and attract consumers. Although the term “sustainability” has been around for hundreds of years, the concept of sustainability has only recently been growing in popularity. As sustainability awareness increases, we are seeing an increasing number of “green” consumers (White et al.). Green consumers are target customers that take the sustainable efforts of a company into consideration during the “alternatives evaluation” stage of the consumer decision-making process.

COVID-19 and Sustainability Awareness

The Covid-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst to increasing sustainability awareness. Lockdowns and resulting business closures demonstrated a juxtaposition in the environmental changes that occur when certain business activities are reduced.

Among the industries that carry the top negative effects for environmental sustainability are the food retail, transportation, construction, and lumber industry (Kamprad,N/A). These industries were severely impacted by the pandemic as most can relate to experiencing at least one of the following:

  • Food shortages due to issues in transportation to retail locations
  • Inability to travel due to transportation restrictions, whether local, domestic, or international
  • Increase in cost and duration of construction due to increased cost of raw materials, lack of labor and supply chain issues
  • Increase in price of lumber due to increase in demand but same level of supply

COVID-19 restrictions resulted in reduced number of employees allowed in the workplace, limited customers allowed in retail outlets and large manufacturing plant closures. These changes in business operations created a drastic decrease in pollution and emissions during the lockdown periods of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pause of many pollutant producing businesses activities now presents businesses with an opportunity to re-evaluate the size of their carbon footprints and sustainability efforts.


Practices To Improve Sustainability (James, 2021)

  1. Invest in Efficient Appliances:

Although upfront costs may be high to upgrade to more energy efficient appliances in a business, strategically purchasing efficient lighting, heating, and air-conditioning appliances will reduce the day-to-day utility costs of running a business. Eventually, companies will end up saving money on utilities while reducing energy use and the corporate carbon footprint.

  1. Ensure Recycling Efforts are Maximized:

Recycling and using recycled products are a simple way businesses can implement sustainable efforts. Having accessible recycling stations throughout an organization will help employees and customers be more inclined to recycle due to convenience. It is also important to make sure electronics and batteries are appropriately disposed of, as improper disposal is detrimental to our environment and can result in toxic waste spillage.

  1. Sustainable Packaging:

If companies sell products that requires packaging, it is important to utilize the many recycled and sustainable packaging options available today. Also, using minimal product packaging is a critically underused method to improve the sustainability of a company.

  1. Maximize Use of Local Partners and Suppliers:

There are many benefits to utilizing local sources for materials including reduction in delivery costs. Along with the reduction in delivery costs, less gas is being used to get the resources to your company, reducing the carbon footprint of the company.

  1. Add Electricity Alternatives on Company’s Property

Adding solar panels to the exterior of an office building helps reduce the use of energy by providing an alternative source to electricity. Accessibility to designated electric vehicle charging stations are increasing, specifically in workplace parking lots to increase the number of employees with electric vehicles. Some companies now beginning to offer electric vehicles as “employee vehicle” options to promote reduction of gas consumption and carbon footprints.

Concluding Thoughts

As an employer, there are many ways to increase the sustainability of your work environment to not only benefit employees but utilize the opportunity to appeal to the current consumer trends and improve environmental health. After all, with the increasing number in green consumers, it is important to ensure you retain current customers and attract new customers looking for sustainable solutions and alternatives to their current consumption patterns.