Sustainability is the new luxury paradigm. It is one of the most valuable resources that is key for future success of any company. A corporate strategy of sustainability is a means to foster growth, drive innovation and strengthen brand value in the context of rapid market changes.
In the competitive world of luxury goods, companies focused on sustainability will gain in prestige and value by acting with deep respect for our planet and future generations. This strategy is heightened by those firms that also depend on their use of the finest natural materials that are combined with a tradition of superior craftsmanship.
The world is facing challenges that the luxury industry can no longer escape: Plastic waste at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench, the most remote place in the seas; Record temperatures in the Arctic Ocean. For the first time in human history, we influence nature more than nature influences us. Luxury and lifestyle companies are drivers of alarming changes globally. As much as other industries, they bear responsibility for climate change and social inequality, as creators and multipliers.
If natural resources continue to be exploited at today’s rate, the basis of the world economy, our livelihoods and those of future generations will be destroyed. According to recent estimates, we consume resources equivalent to the biocapacity of 1.7 earths. The consequences of this overexploitation are noticeable: fish stocks are collapsing, habitats and species populations are continuously shrinking and the detrimental accumulation of carbon pollutes our atmosphere.
As a result, companies face many interrelated challenges: climate change (mitigation and adaptation), scarcity of resources (fossil fuels, water, metals, soil), increasing scarcity of drinking water, loss of biodiversity, growing poverty and hunger and demographic changes.
The creators of luxury brands are urged to reduce the impact of their ecological footprints, develop appropriate sustainability strategies and ensure effective resource management across their entire supply chains. Globalization gives companies at least as much influence as politics over economic, social and environmental conditions.
Corporate success can no longer be gauged only by profits and increased revenues, but rather its measurement must include elements of sustainability, environmental awareness and social responsibility.
In addition, luxury companies and their global brands have a major influence on consumer behavior. With their products that strongly evoke emotion, they can educate customers to be more mindful and conscious of their consumption: Buying a sustainable luxury product with sustainable values is one way consumers can help to protect the beauty and diversity of our Mother Earth and lower one’s personal ecological footprint – in the concept of less but better.
Sustainable luxury is the future.
Author: Heinz Ramseier