We see the influx of the Greta Thunberg advocacy groups working to catalyse change to safeguard the climate — but, a growing trend emerging is within more mainstream corporate outfits wanting to go “green” due to a corporate shift in consumer spending habits.

“Consumers—particularly Millennials—increasingly say they want brands that embrace purpose and sustainability” Harvard Business Review

But, Wait…What About the Intention Gap?

Social psychology touches on a framework more commonly known as the “intention behaviour gap” —- we see this in practice within consumer behaviour trends around both corporates and consumer spending that informs disruptive innovation trends. For example, “I really should buy that vegan burger to shift my carbon footprint and meat consumption, but – I will be do it with my next order”.

David Scholz and Leonie Kott (sourcing Sheeran & Webb) found that:

“The intention-behavior-gap describes why people sometimes fail to behave in a way they would like to, even though of existing, strong intentions”.

The proof is in the pudding – and the numbers historically suggest according to a HBR study that few “consumers who report positive attitudes toward eco-friendly products and services follow through with their wallets.” The same study found:

“In one recent survey 65% said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate for sustainability, yet only about 26% actually do so.” The elusive green consumer

Social Influence Impacts Social Business

Social norm theory finds that our behavior is linked to the people around us. Leveraging social influence can be one of the most effective mediums to further sustainability trends “for good”. Large corporates are building out sustainability media initiatives to further social business. Post-pandemic trends illustrate we went from in-person to online quickly and, it would frankly be quite lazy, not to think about online presence when building a new voice and maintaining a presence in the market.


Taglines are key – but can also backfire. Embedding a sustainability thesis across the lifecycle of a business illustrates to the consumer that first off, it takes it seriously, secondly it is committed to the cause (brand trust), and thirdly, there is probably enough financial resource and human capital in-house or allocated, to implement a uniform voice in the market. Finding creative ways to engage with a consumer is key — one of my favourite taglines that did this well was Jack Daniels:

“With all due respect to progress, the world could use a little less plastic” Jack Daniels

We now are well informed that sustainability actually outperforms and more mainstream and institutional players in the market like BlackRock famously remarked that “climate risk” is actually an “investment risk”.



Green Waves

IKEA arguable best known for the DIY affordable furniture outfit is making significant progress around sustainability best practice. Democratising access to the consumer due to its affordability and thesis that anyone-can-build furniture, it also pulls on personal emotive language inclusive of all. Some key verbiage:

  • “Together we can create a more sustainable future”
  • “Save money – and make a difference, without leaving your home”
  • “Using resources within the limits of our planet” 

  As a company it transitioned their entire lighting range to energy efficient LED to mitigate their consumption partners.

A closeup of an LED lightbulb, which uses 85% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs.

COVID-19 dramatically altered the narrative around sustainable consumption — we see a trend toward global leadership around corporates now shifting their culture and “going green”. The market is a constant mixed bag, but companies that commit to building elements of sustainability across all elements of their business and embed “green” into how their products are used and disposed of, may have more long-term success. Market trends suggest that sustainability is here to stay.