Globally we already consume 30% more resources each year than our planet can replenish. But if everyone consumed at European rates we would need three planets, and Americans have a five-planet lifestyle. We cannot go on this way. We must adapt our societies and economies to sustainable patterns of consumption – low if not zero-carbon, resource-efficient and profitable - as soon as we can.
What we did
Retail businesses are used to responding to consumer demand, or ‘pull’ – it is their principal business driver - but this will not deliver the radical changes we need to create a prosperous, resource-efficient world. Most consumers don’t have enough information, opportunity or motivation to make sustainable choices about how they buy and use products, so ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ consumption is still niche and companies make only incremental improvements. Leading brands need to take the initiative and work together to stimulate consumer pull on sustainability and make ‘sustainable consumption’ mainstream.
Consumer Futures 2020 aims to help them do this. It is designed as a practical tool to help organisations throughout the global consumer goods industry plan for the future. It contains four different, but entirely plausible, scenarios which explore how patterns of consumption and consumer behaviour may have changed by 2020.
The scenarios are not intended to be predictions or visions of desired futures. They look at how global trends may change our world and the consumer goods industry, and how sustainable products, services and business models could become mainstream.
Future scenarios are an invaluable tool for forward thinking businesses to use when planning ahead. They help identify risks and opportunities, inform strategy development, and stimulate innovation. Sainsbury’s and Unilever are already using them to explore new ways of collaborating on initiatives that will deliver sustainability and commercial benefit to both organisations.
The scenarios are accompanied by a toolkit to help you make best use of the scenarios. It includes six sketched-up products and services for each scenario illustrating how brands may meet consumer needs in 2020 and a set of personas which can be used to analyse the scenarios from different consumer perspectives.