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Spending with their hearts

From the May 2014 issue.

Rainforest Alliance President Tensie Whelan tells GCR Magazine about a major shift in consumer habits that is set to affect every company on the planet.

The argument for a sustainable supply chain has taken different forms over the years.

Initially, the need to protect natural resources fell in the corporate social responsibility department. As climate change started to affect crop outputs, roasters woke up to the fact that ensuring sustainability wasn’t just about the “feel good” factor. Protecting the environment all of a sudden became an important part of securing their supplies of quality coffee.

If these factors weren’t enough to shake companies into taking action, a new shift in consumer spending is about to be a major wake up call.

“We’re seeing an increase in broader groups wanting to spend in alignment with their values,” says Tensie Whelan, President of one of the world’s most recognised certification schemes, the Rainforest Alliance. “These people don’t see themselves as environmentalists or social activists, but they care about the community and want to spend responsibly.”

It turns out that showing customers a company cares about the environment might now be an essential selling point. Whelan says that although consumers won’t necessarily spend more on what they see as a product aligned with their values, when faced with the choice between two products as parity price, they will chose the latter.

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