Sustainable innovation: marketers should dial down the fluff

13 Oct 2010|Added Value

Johannesburg, 13th October, 2010 – Leslie Pascaud, Added Value’s global director of Sustainable Marketing Practice, is in South Africa this week as the keynote speaker of the second annual Brands and Branding for Good Conference.

Pascaud, who returns to speak at the conference for the second year running, has focused on the role of sustainable innovation in helping companies move forward in an environment of uncertainty, increased public scrutiny and dwindling resources.

Pascaud, who has helped businesses like Unilever and Shell to address sustainability issues, believes that by harnessing the existing innovation funnel, companies can make the steps necessary to become more ethical, responsible and ultimately more sustainable businesses.

Speaking from the conference, Pascaud said, “Innovation changes the world.  Think of something as ubiquitous as the iPod.  It changed the entire music industry.  Now imagine if we could harness that energy to change the way we do business for the better.”

“We can no longer delude ourselves that the way we’ve grown and run our businesses in the past is sustainable.  Our environment is in crisis, consumer trust is at an all time low and, to be frank, the challenge to change often feels completely overwhelming.  But change is unavoidable.  By integrating the principles of sustainable innovation into our businesses, we can start to make the small steps needed to deliver big change.”

According to Pascaud, there are five key principles that should guide the sustainable innovation process:

  1. Include an impact assessment upfront to identify the issues specific to your industry, category and brand
  2. Dial down the fluff and dial up the reality of how any action will genuinely move your business forward
  3. Give greater voice to stakeholders and opinion leaders, particularly those critical of your business practice
  4. Follow a more iterative process to ensure product or service reality will deliver on objectives
  5. When engaging consumers, either for insight or during communications, be particularly sensitive to overclaim and greenwashing

Keith Stevens, Managing Director of Added Value South Africa, adds “Like many businesses around the world, South African companies are faced with the challenges of a changing landscape.  But locally, sustainability issues aren’t always just environmental.  Socio-economic, health and public safety issues are often far more relevant to consumers and to the businesses who serve them.  The sustainable innovation process is focused on addressing the issues that are important to the survival of each individual business, and then equipping them to move into a more long-term future.”

In the past 3 years, says Pascaud, businesses have either seized or missed sustainable innovation opportunities.

She points to the automotive industry as an example.  While conservative US analysts J.D. Power and Associates are predicting triple digit growth in the hybrid car market, General Motors has decided to shut down production of its Hummer model, which had become an unflattering symbol of gas-guzzling over-consumption.

Likewise, international bottled water brands like Dasani are struggling, while water filter businesses have experienced double digit growth in some markets.

Pascaud notes that these examples make it clear that moving towards a more sustainable future is also good for business.

In the South African context, Pascaud says the country is uniquely geared towards innovation and says that the cultural of social entrepreneurship at all levels of society will be particularly key to the sustainability of the market.   Brands have the opportunity to leverage this culture to drive their own innovation process and sustainable equity.

Pascaud will be in South Africa from the 12th to the 15th of October.

About the Brands and Branding for Good Conference:

The Brands and Branding for Good Conference runs from the 13th to 14th of October, and includes a line-up of respected international and local speakers will address attendees at the Hilton Sandton on the 13th and 14th of October.

Joining Leslie on the podium are:

Terry Volkwyn
CEO of Primedia Broadcasting which owns radio stations Talk Radio 702, 567 CapeTalk, 94.7 Highveld Stereo and 94.5 Kfm.

Jo-Ann de Wet
Operations Director, McDonald’s, South Africa

Mzamo Masito
Marketing Director, Nike , South Africa

Paul Bannister
Managing Director, Ignite. Served as the acting CEO of the International Marketing Council of SA during the crucial build-up to the hosting of the World Cup.

Nicholas Maweni
Marketing & Communications Executive Sub-Sahara Africa, IBM

Mitch Faigan
President, Citizen Brand

Jean Cox- Kearns
Leads the Dell Take Back organisation for the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) Region

Mindy Goldstein
Partner & Programme Director Ogilvy & Mather, and member of the founding team of OgilvyEarth, New York

Seth Farbman
Senior Partner and President, OgilvyEarth, New York

Mike Schalit
Chief Creative Director, Net#work BBDO South Africa, and Co-founder of the MAL Foundation

Deon Robbertze
Executive Creative Director of Zoom and Creative Director OgilvyEarth at Zoom Advertising, South Africa

Melissa Attree
Social Media Marketing and Communications Professional and Founder, GetOn eMarketing

Mike Freedman
Founder, Freedthinkers

Nicola Robins
Sustainability Strategist, Incite Sustainability

Andrew Human
CEO, The Loerie Awards

For enquires and bookings contact or Brands & Branding for Good Conference 2010.

About Added Value’s sustainability offer:

Click here for more on Added Value’s sustainability offer.

Or contact:

Andrea Ellens, Associate Director, Added Value South Africa / +27 11 317 4949

Kate Wolters, Group Communications Manager /+27 72 111 8782

Leslie Pascaud, Director, Sustainable Marketing Practice / +33 1 534 53089

About Leslie Pascaud, Director of Responsible Marketing Practice

Leslie Pascaud is currently director of Added Value’s sustainable marketing practice which she launched in 2006 in recognition of a market need to reveal the unmet commercial potential for more responsible brands and businesses. Since then she has helped clients like Shell, Monoprix, Nestlé, Dove, Lipton and Danone use sustainable development as a springboard for innovation and brand building.

Prior to this role, Leslie served as innovation thought leader for the Added Value Group and ran a range of innovation, positioning and segmentation projects across a host of multinational clients. She speaks frequently at international conferences on sustainable innovation and marketing issues.

Leslie began her career in advertising, where she spent 10 years at DMB&B (now Publicis) New York and then Paris. She is a graduate of the Yale School of Management, the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communications and the Wharton School of Finance. An American native, she has lived and worked for the past 18 years in Paris.

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