from Tech for good: Building eco-friendly into your brand
by Anasia D’mello
The latest extinction rebellion highlighted an increasingly urgent appetite from the public to tackle climate change and ensure greater sustainability.
Brands are no exception to the story. Environmentally-aware consumers don’t just want to make the world a better place; a recent survey from Futerra found the majority (96%) feel their behaviour and purchasing choices can fuel real change. These consumers recognise they have a social responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint and this is dictating their purchasing decisions, says Richard Baker, CEO of GeoSpock.
Creating a cleaner customer journey
As consumers demand the demonstration of good corporate citizenship with a strong eco commitment, brands must strike the balance between what is right for their businesses with what is right for humanity and the environment.
Already we’re seeing reaction and response – recently, John Lewis confirmed its first plastic-free bag trial in Oxford, while Vodafone have announced an initiative to sell more sustainable phones by the end of this year. But more needs to be done across the industry if brands are to remain in consumers’ shopping baskets. Products must tell sustainable stories across the supply chain, allowing consumers to track this from production to delivery.
Engaging with ethical consumers
In Denmark, for example, the government is working with supermarkets on creating labels that explain food products’ carbon footprints. While the idea of carbon labelling has been around for some time, there are very few brands that provide this level of visibility. In 2012, Tesco dropped a plan to label its product with their carbon footprint because the amount of work involved in calculating the figure.
However, nearly a decade on and this challenge is becoming less daunting. Sensors are now embedded into innocuous everyday objects. All of these items are now linked by the internet, sharing intelligence that can be used to deliver greater transparency into the provenance of individual products.
Take small frequent buys that have a high environmental impact – such as perishable food or supermarket flowers. Sensors in the form of Radio Frequency Identification transmitters and GPS systems are used to track goods as they move from the production plant to storage facilities and are transported onto shop shelves.
This intelligence can be used to give consumers an accurate view of where products have travelled. Brands can also capture the emissions produced by every vehicle or vessel involved in the transportation process and relay this back to customers.
Interestingly, QR codes are providing the answer and meeting customers demand for more transparency. Using QR codes to access extra information might not be new exactly, but using spatial big data platforms, QR codes can read digital barcodes to provide deeper insights.
Instead of simply enabling consumers to simply check brand credentials – such as safety certificates and distribution licences – QR codes can open apps that provide visualisations of product journeys. Route maps can even show precise movement of shipments from source to store and provide compelling proof of supply chain integrity through leveraging vast sets of data on a product’s location and environment.
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