Next week's Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group meeting is going to consider how to engage customers in Sustainability. This is a huge issue as the bulk of many products' environmental impacts are in the 'use' phase and/or are determined by customer behaviour. Take food, for instance, not only is the cooking of the food a big chunk of its lifecycle impact, but storage and meal-planning will determine how much food actually gets eaten and how much goes in the bin unused.

However, when I hit Google to try and find the latest thinking on customer engagement, I didn't get much to go on. So, as usual, I made up my own model, the final version of which came to me over my early morning cuppa today. I thought I'd throw it out into the public to see what the response to it was.

It is, as you can see, the classic 2x2 business school matrix. The level of innovation and communication give us four broad categories:

  • Instruction: providing information e.g. the 'Wash at 30°C' campaign, the new 'fridge' logo for food;
  • Choice-editing: developing new products and services where the choice of being unsustainable is removed e.g. B&Q refusing to stock patio heaters, software to automatically shut down networked PCs at the end of the working day, product-service systems etc;
  • Dialogue: the customer can get in touch to query options or peer-to-peer support – help lines, chat support, forums, face-to-face user networks, transparency services;
  • Collaboration: new products/services are co-produced with customers, e.g. the NetWorks project between Interface and Aquafil.



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