How can sustainability play a meaningful role in a business world that caters to a rather base goal to "deliver what people want"? In short -- by seeing the reality as an opportunity.
Here, we continue with the second half of this deceptively simple equation: understanding what people want and then delivering it to them.
One rule that economists have figured out is the principle of rising expectations. Once people have something -- take the internet, for example -- they typically and rather quickly want more, such as access on their phone or on a plane. Or as Pete Townsend of The Who exclaims in "Magic Bus" -- "I want it, I want it, I want it!"
Sustainability planners have an opportunity here as well. In China, for example, a rising middle class increasingly wants healthy food and air and is willing to pay for what they want. In the U.S., the success of Whole Foods and Patagonia demonstrate the strength of the demands of "sustainable" consumers. At its root, want is fundamentally a term of value. To the extent CSOs can demonstrate that people legitimately want a car that goes further without refueling or food that is healthy or technology that benefits the community, then they have integrated sustainable principles into the core business model.
Image of couple shopping copyright by Shock available via Shutterstock.
Next page: Delivering