Consumer views have changed more in the past six months than in the past five years and businesses, big or small, that are going to do well are those that act socially, environmentally and ethically responsible.

“Sustainable development is not philanthropy. It is a necessary condition for corporate longevity. It is the measure of good risk management and a long-term vision,” said Robert Halley, chairman of the supervisory board, Carrefour.

The consumer expects retailers to take on the ecological and social responsibility and that they carry ‘sustainable products’ in their product line. However, for retailers there must be a certain level of demand to make this an attractive option. Sustainability is often viewed as a competitive handicap and few companies have been successful in building their brand while adhering to such principles.

While the retailer’s commitment is a focus point for the consumer, of course they are also guided by price. Thus, sustainability is added value and in itself scarcely an argument that determines the purchase decision. Therefore, communication at the point of sale should aim to activate what is known as ‘emotional alliances’ by conveying the ecological and social quality of a product together with other and individually important added benefits.

Major retailers worldwide have ‘committed to the environment’ such as Wal-Mart, which is undertaking a huge ‘360° sustainability’ initiative measured by a scorecard in their supply chain in areas such as percentage of recycled content and percentage of recovery value; Marks & Spencer’s has committed to reducing substantially waste and using sustainable raw materials in their stores in the next five years; Tesco last year launched the ‘Green Institute’ with an investment of $64 million, which will lead and coordinate researches in a variety of retail green issues.

With sustainability and the environment in mind, SPOS will be holding the Future’s so Bright – Bright Green events on 12 March in Melbourne and 14 March in Sydney. Leading presenters – including Guy Cheston, advertising sales and sponsorship director, Harrods; Sean Lucy, director, climate change services, PricewaterhouseCoopers; Peter James Ryan, chief executive navigator, Red Communications Australia; Emily Kucukalic, head of brand and external relations, AGL – will share their vision of the future in the retail environment.

For more information on the events and to reserve your seat, go to or email: