Monday, December 20, 2010

If You Want to Design Consumer Shift - Let the Women do It!

by Jean Brittingham

Over the past few years, there has been a ‘quickening’ in the world of women as it relates to the health and future of our planet. This awakening has fuelled the emergence of grassroots communities as well as the significant increase in entrepreneurial activity among women that we at SmartGirls are so very excited about.

It has also created a significant body of research about the traits of successful women in these ventures.   Not surprisingly, they are the traits talked about extensively in sustainability salons, environmental blogs, and policy meetings -- systems awareness and thinking, passion, hopefulness, solutions orientation and a keen understanding of the undeniable power of relationships.

Women, who are known to wield significant influence in consumer decision-making, can become a secret weapon in a shift to sustainable consumption. To be specific, if women are engaged in the design, marketing, advertising and delivery of the shopping experiences of a future based on sustainable, healthy and generative products and services, the shift to sustainable consumption could be accelerated and the long-desired “consumer pull” for sustainability could see daylight.

I would be thrilled to see consumer brands get excited and real about this opportunity and have recommended it to Davos through my involvement with the Consumer Industry Global Agenda Council. Think about the power of a “design for the future” project incentivized with prizes that is particularly focused on engaging women across the planet. I see kiosks in retail outlets, community centers and other places where women naturally gather.

It’s true the current consumption model was built on creating desire and needs that citizen-consumers (mostly women) respond to. It’s also true women care more about the health of families, communities and therefore the planet and are creating a lot of the actual leadership to make this shift happen

Who then better to help design our way to the future we want?

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