Ask yourself, ‘Why should my brand exist?’

For instance, consumers may say they care about regenerative agriculture but also love the idea of year-round blueberries. 

In many ways, product developers’ jobs have become harder, said Ashley Ericksen, vice president at Ipsos, a global market research agency, during an IFT FIRST virtual panel held earlier this week. 

“While there’s heightened awareness​ [around sustainability], consumer behavior really hasn’t changed a lot when it comes to sustainability over the past five to seven years,”​ said Ericksen. 

While consumers may not all be composting at home or have stopped their use of single-use plastics, they do expect companies to be leading efforts in this area.

“One variable at play, is this notion of responsibility. Consumers tend to put more responsibility on businesses and government than they do on themselves. That skew in responsibility is even greater in the US,”​ said Ericksen.

‘Consumer behavior really hasn’t changed a lot when it comes to sustainability over the past five to seven years’

In this situation, consumers want brands to help guide them and prove that their businesses are doing “the right thing.”​ To do this, values such as sustainable practices have to be incorporated at every stage of the development process, explained Ericksen.

“If you bring that element into the later stages as you launch, you’ve probably missed an opportunity,” ​she said. 

“We have found that when it comes to this space of sustainability, consumers have told us they’re much more likely to change their behaviors in the food and grocery space. It’s easier, it’s low-hanging fruit.”

But what does that look like in practice? Ericksen said brands have to get comfortable talking about their business in a public and accessible way.

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