Weekly Highlights May 19, 2015

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Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 10:50am

Sweeping Changes in Corporate Sustainability?
Yes Check Out Sustainable Brands Top 10

While the venerable late night talk show host on CBS Network – David Letterman – is moving on this week, the “Top 10 List” feature he made popular on his program flourishes in many other venues.  One that is worth your serious reading is the Sustainable Brands “News & Views” post -- on the 10 critical corporate sustainability trends to watch in 2015 and beyond.

The commentary by SB’s Dimitar Viahov focused our attention on such items as Trend #3 – “Transparency Campaigns Gaining Attention but Scrutinized Ever More Closely.”  He sees brand champion corporates launching transparency-themed campaigns such as SeaWorld attempting to publicly fight back against serious charges that the company abuses its animal kingdom assets (like the Orcas, or “killer whales”).  SeaWorld has been buying the dominant ad space in daily newspaper op-ed pages for what we think are well-presented messages presenting the company’s side of the argument.  Or the McDonald’s example, holding forth on “public discussions on foods”  as a new CEO takes charge amidst rising consumer concerns about the company’s fast food menu offerings.

The key question we think about is:  Where does the recognized brand leader take the key messaging when the societal forces seem to be on the other side of the company’s unique selling proposition? 

Then there’s Trend #8 :  “Major Pivots in Favor of Shifting Product Portfolios with Sustainability-Driven Criteria in Mind.”  More about customer concerns regarding a company’s product.  In a sweeping strategic move, chemical industry leader BASF (Germany) evaluated more than 50,000 product applications in the portfolio (with a sales volume of 56 billion Euros).  That resulted in 1,000-plus plans for changing or phasing out products, based on a careful review by 1,500 experts. 

Other examples are the U.S. drug chain CVS tossing out a significant revenue and profit generator –- eliminating sales of tobacco products in its drug stores.  Or the Panera Bread food retailer looking to remove artificial flavors, colors and other ingredients from the menu in its chain of stores.

The G&A Institute team sees a wide range of these types of “customer” and “society-friendly” strategies being implemented in a variety of industries, especially by brand leaders seeking to protect and extend the brand influence.  Company C-suites “get it” when they carefully appraise the realities of the transparency of their operations, product manufacturing and marketing.  In the past 10 years we’ve tracked a sweeping change in the way large companies do business and go to market in both consumer and industrial & business segments.

Author Viahov is the Sustainable Brands director of content development.  He writes for the SB blog and regularly leverages the numerics in various posts (“10 forces,” “10 firsts,” “Five reasons…”)  You can read more by him at:

The very credible Sustainable Brands organization will further explore the 10 trends and other trends over the coming months, beginning at its early June “Sustainable Brands ’15 San Diego” conference.  Meantime, get started with the Top Story in our newsletter this week -– you’ll find a few that affect your company in today’s list.

This is just a sample of some of the articles from this weeks SustainabilityHQ Highlights.  You can view the full Highlights by using the following links. Sustainability | ESG, Highlights for the Week of May 19, 2015

Keywords: Media & Communications | G&A Institute | GRI | Governance & Accountability Institute | SWF | Sovereign Wealth Funds | SustainabilityHQ | business & trade | environmental | esg | governance