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Sustainability is more than just a label



External Affairs Director Asda Stores, Asda House, Great Wilson Street, Leeds, LS11 5AD


Sustainability Is More Than Just A Label: in this paper Paul Kelly questions whether retailers and manufacturers serve their customers well by relying too much on labels to reinforce their sustainability credentials. He argues that getting consumers to buy more sustainable products requires businesses to have a closer understanding of what is really important to customers. Using specially commissioned research he highlights five clear principles that should guide the corporate strategies of companies who want to make their products, and their businesses, more sustainable.

“The Copenhagen sustainability series is a Household and Personal Care Today initiative supported by Novozymes, inspired by the Copenhagen Household Care sustainability summit of December 2011”.


As retailers and manufacturers, we are constantly vying to show that we understand the consumer better than our competitors. But do we?
Put yourself in the customers’ shoes for a moment. Walk down the aisle of any supermarket and you will be bombarded by claim and counterclaim; prices and promises; colour and choice galore.
Navigating this assault on the senses and tracking down the most sustainable products adds to the already stressful experience of doing the weekly shop.
In an attempt to use sustainability to create a competitive edge, we have become lazy. All too often the default position is to stick a label on the product lauding its sustainability credentials. But does such an approach serve the needs of our customers?
I would argue it doesn’t. Sticking a label on a product doesn’t make it sustainable. Sustainability has to be embedded in a company’s corporate strategy so that it drives how the organisation goes ab ...

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