Speaking with FoodNavigator, Poukka said Deloitte had just completed a 1.5-year study that aimed to find ways to increase consumer engagement when it comes to sustainability, linking marketing communications with consumers.
“The idea is to try to find ways that sustainability can add value to a company’s business,” she said. “…Companies are investing an increasing amount of their budget in CSR [corporate social responsibility] without being able to see the value they are getting out of that.”
Deloitte says that although most organisations now recognise the importance of sustainability for managing risk and increasing revenue, most still fail to leverage customer engagement.
The professional services firm has identified four different frameworks for engaging with consumers when it comes to sustainability initiatives: Transparency engagement, which allows consumers to scrutinise the full supply chain of a product by telling its production story; lifecycle engagement, which actively involves consumers at different stages of the product’s lifecycle, such as recycling or other activities; partnership engagement, which involves other stakeholders in spreading a message; and collaborative engagement, which blurs who owns the product or service, like the Airbnb model, for example.
Escaping the CSR silo
One of the major challenges is ensuring sustainability is embedded in the company, rather than dealt with separately from the rest of the business, Poukka said.
“Sustainability is often quite siloed in an organisation,” she said. “It can make it difficult to get things done.”
She said companies were moving toward more integrated approaches, as many have realised that they are doing good work on sustainability but are not using it as efficiently as they could – and there is increasing understanding that sustainability goes beyond environmental factors.
“Companies are more and more looking at not just environmental impacts but also social impacts, at least in the European market,” she said, adding that there is often a balance to be struck between the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainability.
“We talk about sustainability as a whole, but it’s not. There’s always some kind of trade-off between different factors,” she said.
It is often a balancing act between companies and their customers too. Poukka said Deloitte works with companies to determine where they can make the biggest impact, but also takes into account what makes their customers tick and which actions might resonate most with them.
“Then we try to find a common denominator between these two. There is always some crossover,” she said.
Poukka is due to speak on this topic at the Sustainable Foods Summit, taking place in Amsterdam on June 4-5. To find out more about the event, click here.