We’re not here to persuade you. You already get it.
Along with rising numbers of consumers around the world, you know the shift to a more ethical, sustainable consumerism is the coming trend of all trends. And that you need to be a part of what’s ahead.
At TrendWatching we’ve been tracking this shift forever. So why are we highlighting it now?
Because we’re at a crucial inflection point in the journey. Awareness of the damaging planetary and social impacts of much consumerism has never been higher – driven in part by charismatic leaders (respect, Greta!) and powerful global movements for change. One glimpse of that shift in attitudes? In the UK, 23% consider the environment and climate change one of the most important issues facing the UK – the highest levels seen in 30 years. (Ipsos MORI, February 2020)
Meanwhile, even legacy players admit it’s time for radical action. Microsoft has announced plans to be carbon negative by 2030. Jeff Bezos just pledged USD 30 billion for climate change (but what about paying your tax, Jeff?). The World Economic Forum says businesses must serve society and the planet, not just shareholders.
This revolution is needed. It’s right. The opportunities are huge. Trends can be your fuel.
Sure, we can rewind the clock and take a trend-journey through the evolution of this moment.
Remember back when eco-consumption was a niche status play for affluent consumers who dreamed of owning – or went out and bought! – a Tesla Model S. Or back when Patagonia helped redefine the quest for a more socially responsible business by telling readers of the New York Times ‘Do Not Buy This Jacket’. Recall the emergence of a new search for a GUILT-FREE CONSUMPTION.
Fast-forward to 2020, and purposeful consumption is more available, affordable and just plain better than ever. That means it’s becoming less a matter of status for those who opt in, and more a matter of shame for those who don’t.
But this report isn’t about the deep shifts that brought us to this place. Instead, we’re here to share three actionable trends that you can apply now. They are drawn from our full report on The Future of Purpose – featuring five trends, trend evolution timelines and additional innovation examples – that we’ve just published inside our Premium Service.
1. SUSTAINABILITY AS A SERVICE
Consumers embrace services that allow them to track and reduce their planetary impact.
2. OPEN SOURCE SOLUTIONS
In 2020, smart brands open source their most purposeful work.
3. CODE BREAKERS
Consumers look to brands to break their brand or industry code in the name of ethics or sustainability.
As always, each of these trends is illustrated by innovation examples that are already reshaping the expectations of your customers.
And on that, one last word before we dive in. In 2020, every business – even the most virtuous – needs to change. When we highlight the innovation examples below, we’re NOT saying the businesses behind them are perfect. Or that these examples absolve them from the need to change further.
What we ARE saying is that these examples represent steps – sometimes tiny ones – in the right direction. And that when consumers see them, they’ll start to change what they expect from you.
And that’s how the momentous change that’s coming will happen. One step at a time. So let’s go.
Intrepid & Generation Now —
Subscription services let users offset carbon footprint
SAAS can mean subscription services that help build a cleaner world.
January 2020 saw Australia-based travel company Intrepid Travel partner with climate charity Offset Earth to provide a monthly carbon offset subscription service. Subscriptions start at at USD 6.50 per month, and see Offset Earth plant trees to offset carbon emissions. Subscribers receive a monthly report detailing their carbon impact. Similarly, Generation Now is a subscription service that funds carbon offset projects, including reforestation projects in Madagascar and Mozambique.
Swipe to see more innovations >>
Zero-waste delivery service for household goods
New circular economy innovations are a key part of this trend...
Nestlé, PepsiCo, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever and other household goods giants have partnered on a new zero-waste e-commerce platform called Loop. Consumers buy products in reusable containers through the Loop platform. Ordered items are delivered to the door, and empty containers are collected and sent for sterilization, before being refilled. After successful pilots in New York and Paris in Q2 2019, the scheme will soon roll out to California as well as the UK, Canada, Germany, and Japan.
Circular economy solution for baby clothes
Some products lend themselves perfectly to a SAAS solution...
Ecommerce platform Upchoose stocks organic cotton baby clothes that can be returned as babies grow. When parents send clothes back they qualify for a discount for the next size up; old clothes are sold on the platform to other parents at a reduced price. Premium baby brands such as Under The Nile and Kate Quinn are available. UpChoose launched from beta in the US in August 2019; the company hopes to expand to other products in the future.
App tracks CO2 impact of every purchase
SAAS can mean rolling, personalized advice.
In November 2019, Finland-based payment provider Enfuce launched an app that shows consumers the CO2 emissions of their purchases. My Carbon Actions breaks down the carbon impact of a purchase by looking at its entire lifecycle, from raw material extraction through to disposal. The app, which is only available in Finland, is a collaboration with carbon calculator company D-Mat, Mastercard, and Amazon’s on-demand cloud computing platform AWS.
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University of Helsinki —
Finland makes AI course freely available
Your organization already has knowledge others need. Why not OPEN SOURCE it?
In December 2019, Finland ended its tenure of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union by announcing that an online course about AI created by the University of Helsinki and Finland-based tech company Reaktor would be made freely available to all EU citizens from 2020. Available in all official EU languages, the Elements of AI course is intended to equip people with digital skills, increase practical understanding of AI, and give a boost to the digital leadership of Europe.
Swipe to see more innovations >>
Craft beer brand makes recipes public
OPEN SOURCE your processes and knowledge, and you can take the lead in transforming eco-standards in your industry.
In February 2020 craft beer brand BrewDog announced six initiatives intended to make the company more ethical and sustainable. Among them are plans to make public everything the company knows about beer, including recipes, brewing standards, and sustainability and accountability reports. BrewDog say they hope that sharing this information with competitors will help the entire industry move towards more sustainable practices.
Open source washing machine keeps microplastics out of oceans
Want to get all out on this trend? OPEN SOURCE a transformative innovation.
August 2019 saw Turkey-based home appliance manufacturer Arçelik announce the release of a washing machine that can help prevent microplastics from reaching the oceans. According to the company, the machine uses a filter that captures 90% of the one million tiny plastic fibers that are released per load of laundry. These fibers end up in water systems and are potentially ingested by marine life and people. Arçelik plans to open source its filter technology to allow its use by other brands.
Twitter to develop open source protocols for decentralized social platforms
Can you run an OSS initiative around a key issue in your industry?
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced in December 2019 that the company would fund research to develop new open source, decentralized standards for social media. The longterm goal is to empower users to create their own decentralized social networks, which would follow the open-source standards when it comes to moderation of hate speech, advertising, and other issues.
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Band refuses to tour due to environmental impact
Being a CODE BREAKER can mean disrupting a core part of your offering in the name of sustainability...
November 2019 saw UK-based rock music band Coldplay announce they would not tour their new album, Everyday Life, due to environmental concerns. Instead, Coldplay live streamed two 30-minute concerts on YouTube from Amman, Jordan, at sunrise and sunset. A week after their broadcast, the concerts had been viewed more than 15 million times. In addition, the band played a gig at London’s Natural History Museum; proceeds went to an environmental law nonprofit.
Swipe to see more innovations >>
Vogue Italia —
Fashion magazine publishes edition with no photoshoots
A fashion magazine has to feature fashion photoshoots...or does it?
The January 2020 issue of Vogue Italia didn’t feature any photoshoots. Instead, editor-in-chief Emanuele Farneti commissioned eight artists to create illustrated covers depicting models wearing outfits from fashion house Gucci. It is the first time in the magazine’s 55-year history that it has featured no fashion photography. The move was a bid to highlight the environmental impact of fashion photoshoots, which often require air travel. The money saved was donated to the restoration of the flooddamaged Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice.
New store will have no parking spaces
Sometimes breaking a CODE means making new demands of customers, too.
January 2020 saw IKEA begin construction on a new seven-story store in Vienna that will have no car park. Shoppers will be expected to arrive on foot or by public transportation, with large items to be delivered to people’s homes from a nearby logistics center. The Vienna store will also feature a rooftop park that will be open to the public even when the store is closed. The park will be home to over 160 trees, and the top two floors of the building will host the Accor hostel-hotel hybrid concept JO&JOE, in addition to other communal spaces.
Airline encourages passengers to fly less often
Remember Patagonia’s ‘Do Not Buy This Jacket’? Now, Dutch airline KLM is making a similar play...
The Fly Responsibly campaign, launched by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in June 2019, asked passengers to reconsider whether they needed to fly. A video also asked travelers to travel light, and to offset flight-related CO2 emissions. In September 2019, KLM announced it would replace one of its five daily flights between Brussels and Amsterdam with seats on a high-speed rail service. Effective from March 2020, the scheme is a partnership with train operator Thalys and NS Dutch Railways.
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Three trends reshaping the future of purpose. Three opportunities to do good in the world – and prove to consumers that you get it 🚀
This moment should be the beginning of a journey, not the end of one. Now is the time to act.
If you a lone operator or a super-nimble startup: get to work! Absorb these trends, apply, innovate, partner if necessary – and make change happen.
For others: we know the journey may not be so fast. If you’re inside a big brand, the first step can be to start a movement for change inside your organization. Use this report as fuel. Take it back to your team – and your higher-ups – and challenge them: how do we respond to rising expectations that brands do more than only make a profit?
For those of you who want to take this further – we’ll see you at our upcoming event on The Future of Purpose. You’ll hear more about these trends – plus an additional five! – and then get to work in an interactive Trend-Driven Innovation workshop, to turn them into powerful new ideas for your organization.
Meanwhile, be sure to check out our sister company Business of Purpose, where you can join a global community of purpose-driven professionals, and find resources to supercharge your journey.
Purpose is truly the coming trend of all trends. And this is the decade to make it happen. To all those who are, or will be, part of that story: we salute you!
This Trend Briefing has many hands on it. A huge thanks to the team that pulled this together with such positivity and enthusiasm, especially: Vicky Kim and Nikki Ritmeijer (for design!), and also Maxwell Luthy, Vicki Loomes, Henry Mason and Lisa Feierstein. THANK YOU!