Unlike the Field of Dreams principle, shoppers won’t support sustainability just because you do. And, Unilever appears to “get” that: To become a sustainable company it must partner with customers.
This is obvious in the consumer-centric project the company is launching  in the U.K. and Ireland. The goal? Helping families live more sustainably, reducing household waste by 25% and cutting monthly food bills by 15%.
According to Unilever’s own research, seven out of 10 adults in the U.K. say the primary barrier to adopting an environmentally-conscious lifestyle is cost. Committed to debunking this perception, the company plans to provide advice and tools to help customers achieve a more socially responsible lifestyle and help families change their attitudes about food waste, while doing so in a manner that doesn’t break their budget.
Obviously, you can change packaging, but if customers don’t understand why, or believe it will cost them more, there is a disconnect. If consumers don’t connect the dots between sustainability and food waste, the compost pile simply grows.
And if shoppers aren’t introduced to how smart, sustainable spending patterns can help them reduce grocery bills, they will be reluctant to try, adhering to current habits.
Consequently, the company is listening to, engaging with, and providing support for consumer behavioral changes that also will help the company meet its corporate objectives. The ultimate goal is to change consumer behavior in a manner that assists Unilever in reducing its environmental footprint and in meeting its aggressive social responsibility goals.
Kudos to Unilever for addressing the root cause and conducting this pilot program, Sustain Ability Challenge. Hopefully, it will be refined and headed to the U.S. A successful sustainability model, in which business and customers work together, clearly will produce more significant results than one in which the company only markets in the hopes that “they will come.”