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Keeping you in-the-know on environmental, social and governance developments

[Ed. note: There will be no blog on Monday as our offices will be closed in observance of Martin Luther King day. We’ll return Tuesday.]

Sometime in the early 2000s, I started advocating the idea that companies needed to align product sustainability attributes directly with customers’ key buying criteria. Back then, the push came from B2B relationships and centered around ISO14001 certification and the infancy of CSR. Sometime later, consumer preferences became a driving force for company/product sustainability strategies, but the idea of connecting those attributes to key buying criteria remained critical to achieving success. Yesterday, Bloomberg reported climate technology is a theme at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), offering this insight on the current evolution of sustainability buying criteria:

“The push from consumers for carbon-free products is what’s really led to the shift in corporate calculus on electrifying their wares, [Limor Schafman, a director at LG Nova] said. Yet the promise to deliver carbon cuts is very low on the pitch list for most of the products above. Instead, companies are focused on marketing their products as making life easier, more comfortable or just more fun.”

One example is a new electric grill showing at CES: “Rather than the carbon benefits, the company likes to tout how you no longer have to lug around a propane tank.” An older example is how Tesla has long touted the raw acceleration performance of some of the company’s EVs, which appeals to gearheads.

Interesting stuff – and worth paying attention to. What is “key” for buyers is not static and in many cases, changes because of technology. I remember when the iPad was released, someone called it the greatest thing we never knew we needed. Consumer tastes and perceptions relative to climate/sustainability characteristics seem to change as well – companies need to keep pace with key buying criteria and related messaging.

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile