The future beckons but, before we get the winter engines fully fired up, we wanted to share a few of our own highlights the recent past.
We spent a chunk of the year on research in the area of consumer preference for sustainable products and companies, what we call Customer Science. We reported on some of those results in articles in this space and also in a story published by Sustainable Brands. All of these illustrated some of the features that make our approach unique:
- Observing consumers making actual selections rather than asking them about generic hypotheticals
- Incorporating choice psychology and other scientific findings into our experimental design
- Breaking critical questions into their key elements, thus transforming a single question into as many as eight separate hypotheses
- Drawing on much larger sample sizes – often ten times than what others use
The results clearly showed that sustainable products, and companies that are leaders in sustainability and CSR, are preferred by customers.
It turns out this trend goes beyond value-added consumer products and extends to commodity ingredients. In addressing a symposium by a US agricultural trade association, Valutus was able to show that sustainable ingredients can bump preference for food products, leading to increased sales and ROI.
Another chunk of 2021 was devoted to filling gaps in the sustainability practitioner’s toolkit. More and better tools were needed in the areas of:
- Quantifying financial benefit – which we addressed through the combination of Customer Science™ and the InVEST™ model
- Keeping up with the evolution of the world’s needs, and the expectations placed on businesses – which inspired the development of the Valutus Issues Early Warning System (VIEWS™) and the Exceptional to Established to Expected Evolution (E3Evolution™) data products
- Identifying the alignment, and misalignment, between company purpose, policies & practices, performance, progress, and perception – which we made dramatically faster and easier through the 5P Heatmap™
- Moving stakeholder analysis far beyond traditional materiality and into strategic stakeholder insight – the core of our Stakeholder Science offering, which includes 4D Materiality™. In combination, they – along with our 30 in ’30 megatrend data product, and other offerings – close the gaps that used to doom materiality to mediocrity
In addition, we added a dozen-and-a-half comprehensive articles to our catalog. The new pieces covered everything from strong, clear, regenerative window glass made of wood, to research on Vietnamese rice varieties that can withstand climate change and possibly stave off global famine, to plans to sustainably colonize the moon.
We also presented twice at Sustainable Brands San Diego, once on CSR in a deeply politically divided world, and once on regenerative leadership. We did the same at the Integrate conference, presenting once with Bob Willard on the business case for sustainability and once with Avnet ESG Director Stacy Mendez on the need to widen the scope of materiality (as noted above, one of the bees in our bonnet that we addressed in 2021).
What else? Oh yes, a TEDx talk, too, on… well, on our favorite subject: the value of values.