These are just three of the more high profile sustainability and social impact efforts undertaken by companies recently – part of a growing movement of brands taking a stand on issues that concern consumers – especially Millennials and Gen Z, explains Matthew Yeomans, founder of Sustainly, a consultancy specialising in SDG strategy for brands. Mr Yeomans heads up sustainability marketing at The Sponsorship Experts, Paul Poole (South East Asia) Co., Ltd.
One recent survey found that 60% of Gen Z (those born after 2000) support brands that take a stand on issues they believe in regarding human rights, race and sexual orientation. Now consider that, by 2020, Gen Z will account for 40% of global consumers and this two billion strong bloc will wield an estimated US$44 billion in purchasing power, Mr Yeomans notes in a rlease isuued last week. (See release here.)
“These young consumers have access to more information about brands and companies than ever before and their perceptions about the quality of products and the credibility of the companies that produce them are being shaped by online opinions in real time. No wonder then that Gen Z consumers are demanding honesty and authenticity from brands and that they want those brands to respect people and the planet,” he says.
To meet these expectations, thousands of businesses around the world are looking to embrace the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a global roadmap for sustainable business development that has been embraced by 193 countries, he explains.
The 17 SDGs were adopted by the UN in 2015 and supported by 193 countries. They cover a list of 169 sustainable development targets to achieve by 2030.
The SDGs cover social and economic development issues including poverty, hunger, health, education, global warming, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, urbanisation, environment and social justice.
“The issues addressed by the goals are core values for many sporting bodies and organisations. Partnering with sports organisations that understand and embrace the SDGs can help brands demonstrate their own commitment to the goals and so win the trust of consumers,” says Mr Yeomans.
“Achieving the goals is worth an estimated US$11 trillion for the world of business. But companies know they can’t address the 17 goals alone. They need partners and this is where the world of sport can play a big part in helping brands win the trust of Gen Z,” he notes.
“Already, major brands have embraced the importance and the potential of the UN SDGs to build stronger and better businesses. By aligning with the SDGs the world of sport can help many other companies do the same.”
The United Nations has a long history of using sports as a tool to promote development and peace. Through numerous resolutions in the General Assembly, the United Nations has recognised sports as a key contributor to promoting tolerance, respect and the empowerment of women, individuals and communities.
“Because of its universal appeal, sports time and time again prove to be a powerful framework for partnerships, advocacy and public awareness building. The United Nations and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Fund have therefore created a special toolkit which aims to identify and showcase the important role sports play in mobilising support and creating public awareness of the SDGs,” Paul Poole explained in a release issued late last week. (See release here.)
The toolkit is aimed at relevant stakeholders including United Nations entities, Member States, sports-related organisations and agencies, associations, foundations, civil society and the private sector.
The toolkit presents a number of case studies that illustrate how sports can help achieve SDGs such as ending poverty; ending hunger and achieving food security and improved nutrition; make cities and human settlements more safe, resilient and sustainable; and achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, he added.
“The toolkit also looks at the private sector as active partners in driving positive change and highlights the innovations and creativeness of global companies like Coca-Cola to reach the far corners of the world. It is argued that this kind of resilient approach can help form the most dynamic and transformational solutions to addressing the SDGs,” Mr Poole said.
Mr Poole also pointed out that, after reviewing a number of case studies and examples of sports as a tool to achieve the SDGs, the toolkit concludes with a number of recommendations for stakeholders, including:
• Sports programmes should develop strategies that address multiple SDGs using the same resources.
• Cross-sector partnerships should be pursued to encourage the formation of alliances between sectors to address development gaps that governments are unable to address.
• Knowledge and expertise exchange and sharing between development sectors and sports stakeholders must be encouraged.
• There should be more funding for inclusive sports and development programmes. The private sector has a big role to play in this part.
• Governments should create policies that increasingly favour and encourage collaborations and partnerships in order to incentivise and fast-track the attainment of sustainable development through sports.
Working with Mr Yeomans, The Sponsorship Experts offer insights, strategic consultancy and executive learning to rights holders helping them create and structure rights that support the UN goals and are attractive to Millennials and Gen Z, Mr Poole explained.
“We help rights holders understand how the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) impact them and how they can use these SDGs to build the future of their business to make a difference.
Rights holders aligning themselves with the SDGs are extremely attractive to brands and have an edge of over those that are not aligned,” he said.
“Hundreds of large companies are fully committed to the SDGs including: adidas, Aviva, Barclay’s, Danone, HSBC, McDonald’s, Nestle, Nike, Pepsico, Puma, Sky and Unilever… to name a few.
“The goals will create an estimated US$11 trillion in value for the companies that get their priorities right and communicate their work effectively to investors, consumers and governments,” he added.