Again, another eco-focused business route that depends on innovation to make change.
Deloitte has been conducting a survey into consumer attitudes and behaviours around sustainability since early March 2020, before the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over this time, research indicates that consumers are making conscious decisions with sustainability and the environment in mind. However, more needs to be done to give consumers greater access to information, as well as better affordability of sustainable options.
In March 2021, results showed that while consumers adopted more sustainable lifestyles during the pandemic e.g. shopping more locally and/or more seasonally, this was due more to the impact of COVID-19 rather than a conscious choice to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. In 2022, research indicates that the impact of inflation and supply chain disruptions has led to fewer choices for consumers, who are finding more innovative ways to spend less e.g. adopting a more sustainable lifestyle and selecting items that are more durable or that can be reused or repaired easily.
Considering these findings and the need to provide better access to information, could you factor this into your next business idea?
Click on the dropdowns below to look at some examples:
LifeStraw addresses access to safe water with its small and inexpensive microfiltration device that protects against bacteria, parasites, microplastics, dirt, sand and cloudiness. The business strives to create products from sustainable materials that offer healthy alternatives to more wasteful options, such as single-use plastics. LifeStraw is a Climate Neutral Certified Brand, which also creates sustainable packaging that avoids the use of plastic and maximises recyclability and compostability. The brand lives by its values and goes that step further every time – for example, for every LifeStraw purchased, the company also provides safe water to one school child for one school year.
Buy the Weigh
Buy the Weigh is a village shop in Ticehurst, East Sussex, that supplies products that meet their criteria such as sustainability, E number free, local, organic, ethically sourced (the list goes on!). The family-run business also stocks plastic-free alternatives such as wooden sustainable household brushes, bamboo reusable cutlery, bamboo toothbrushes, plastic-free dental floss, mouthwash and toothpaste tablets, beeswax wraps, sanitary products, reusable straws and kilner jars. As a result of its eco-credentials, the shop has won numerous local awards, which will, in turn, help to make it an even more successful business.
Zero Waste Company
You’ll also notice a number of shops around the country where you won’t find any plastic clad goods on their shelves, with some – like the Zero Waste Company in Tunbridge Wells – going even further and providing a community space for people to come together for lunch, attend workshops and also shop locally produced gifts and refill cleaning supplies. The business has also recently launched the Ethical Emporium, which is a collective business hub for the local creative community allowing other small independent businesses to showcase their sustainable artisan wares all under one roof. It’s an affordable venture that allows flexible rental space on a weekly basis for a flat fee, with all product sales going to the maker.
Refill is an award-winning campaign, from City to Sea, that connects consumers to places to eat, drink and shop with less waste, putting ‘the power to reduce plastic at your fingertips.’ Anyone can download the free app to tap into a global network of places to reduce, reuse and refill.
Ways to capture insights
The most successful business ideas don’t just offer good products/services and have strong distribution systems – they have a deep understanding of customers. Here are some ways you can capture insights as part of your business ideation process.
Market research is the process of identifying information about your target industry as well as your target customers. Results from your market research will help steer your new business venture by helping you understand demand, market saturation, market size, economic indicators, location, and pricing. Armed with this information, you can not only tailor your business offering, but its branding and marketing to better engage your customers. This encourages better conversion rates, sales, and revenue.
There are two main types of market research methods: primary and secondary. Primary research entails speaking directly to the source, or direct-to-consumer, and secondary research is the act of gathering data from existing third-party sources. Common market research questions include:
- What do you look for in a brand?
- What are the reasons that drive you to make a purchase?
- What problem were you trying to solve when you purchased from [competitor]?
Another way to capture insights is the focus group format – a group interview that capitalises on communication between research participants in order to generate data. One of the benefits to this approach is that it encourages group interaction as opposed to the researcher asking each person to respond to a question. Participants are encouraged to talk to each other, asking questions and commenting on points of view.
Sometimes referred to as fieldwork, naturalistic observation is a qualitative research method where you record the behaviours of your research subjects in real-world settings. This way, you avoid interfering with or influencing any variables in a naturalistic observation. It’s pretty much ‘people watching’ with a purpose.