After five years of construction, the Lego Group recently celebrated the formal opening of its campus at the company headquarters in Billund, Denmark. The building spans 54,000 square meters and serves as a gathering place for some 2,000 Lego employees world-wide. Families are welcome, too.
At the core of the design and build was Lego's commitment to environmental sustainability. For instance, the company used 11,0000 pounds of recycled Lego pieces to create all the outdoor furniture on campus.
The future of business
It's not just Lego. Business models built on sustainability are slowly becoming all the rage: Ikea has hopped onto the circular economy train with a used furniture buyback program; Adidas released its first 100 percent recycled sneakers; and HP released its first PC built with ocean-bound plastics--to name just a few.
Yet sustainability still seems to be a buzzword with an uneasy reputation among business leaders. On the one hand, we know it must be good. On the other, it sounds expensive. Why should your business care?
The proof is in the pudding
It turns out, sustainability is actually what consumers want. Research shows that socio-environmental responsibility is the number-one predictor of positive firm evaluation and subsequent intent to buy. Sustainable product sales have grown by 20 percent since 2014, and according to the 2020 Global Buying Green Report, 74 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable alternatives.
It's clear: The tide is changing. The good thing is that the growing interest in sustainability is itself sustainable. This not only means long-term value for your business, but also increasing accessibility to a previously untapped attitude market. The reason is because of who we are as people.
What's your Why?
If the Great Resignation and the Great Reshuffling tell us anything, it's that people need more. A paycheck is no longer sufficient to justify long hours of grueling, meaningless work. Employees are now looking for mission, purpose, and work-life balance. Maslow anticipated this in his hierarchy of needs: When all our lower needs are met, we look to self-actualization.
This manifests as purpose -- for both consumers and businesses -- of which sustainability is one. Working toward something bigger than themselves will excite your employees, raise overall morale and loyalty, reduce average turnover and quit rates, and make your company a more attractive place to work for future talent. What's not to love?
Don't underestimate the power of personal branding
Social comparison runs in our blood. We intuitively assess our own standing within our groups' hierarchies, and act in ways that strategically manage our reputations. One way to do this is to stand out -- to be unique.
Consumers constantly look for ways to be unique. The initial success of the Toyota Prius over the Honda Civic was because consumers believed the former "said something" about them. Partnering with sustainable businesses is therefore a reflection of the buyer: they are branded a conscientious, ethical consumer, who stays abreast of important environmental developments and is compassionate towards future generations. Just think of the status points.