What is sustainability and why is it important?

Consumers prefer businesses that focus on their impact on the community. By being a sustainable business, you can enhance your brand and bottom line, maximize profits and productivity, increase employee retention and recruitment, and reduce your carbon footprint. Adopting sustainable practices increases the value of your company.

Focusing on what's important to you and your stakeholders (employees, customers, community) creates value for your company. Business management standards like ensuring compliance with laws and regulations are at one end of the sustainability spectrum while bringing about social and environmental change are at the other end. Somewhere in the middle are business policies that improve operations, protect and engage employees, and contribute to the community at large. Whatever stage you are at, SBDC's Business Sustainability Program can help you develop sustainability practices.

To meet the growing consumer demand for environmentally friendly products and services, according to Neilson, many businesses in the U.S have adapted their business models to focus more on sustainability. In doing so, they have not only gained a competitive advantage over other businesses but have also increased their customer base and profits significantly. In a 52-week study comparing consumer purchasing habits for coffee, chocolate and bath products, the weighted average of all three categories showed 3% more growth for sustainable products. This study validates how capitalizing on consumer preferences for sustainability can boost your top-line revenue growth and your profitability at the same time.[1]

A recent study from Nielson (a global measurement and data analytics company), found that 69% of U.S. consumers expect companies to care about the environment. They also found that 85% of millennials and 80% of Gen Z consumers think that business sustainability is extremely important. Consumers have increasingly shifted their buying habits towards businesses that prioritize sustainability in some way.[1]