“A sustainable company conserves resources, respects the environment and is a good neighbor” (Phil Harding, MBE)
A study conducted earlier this year suggested that two-thirds of American adults value sustainability as a major influencing factor in their decision-making process when purchasing products or selecting services. The Business of Sustainability index report published in September 2022 by environmental technology company GreenPrint stated that of 1,000 adults surveyed, 66 percent of US consumers and 80 percent of young US adults (ages 18-34) said they were willing to pay more for sustainable products than their less sustainable competitors.
And just as companies of all shapes and sizes have recognized the commercial and ethical importance of ensuring their business practices are as environmentally friendly as possible and minimize their negative impact on society, so many brands in the world of franchising are embracing sustainability. This can be identified not only in the eco-credentials of the product or service offered to the end user, but also through a purposeful approach to business and the brand’s relationships with the communities in which it operates.
Sustainability may be a buzzword right now, but for a franchise brand to be successful in the current climate, it needs to be more than just a tick-box exercise. Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996 according to the Pew Research Center) represent about one-fourth of the current U.S. population and are thoughtful consumers, researching online purchases and willing to dig deeper into the claims of the product or service they are purchasing. They are followed by Generation Z – born from 1997, the generation of influencers who value self-expression and are passionate about causes and issues in which they strongly believe. A franchise brand that can demonstrate that they are doing what they can to reduce their environmental impact and “give back” is much more likely to get a buy-in from these valuable and dominant consumer groups, build a loyal following and associated financial success.
Aspiring franchisees who have money to invest are also now more likely to stop and research the ethical and sustainable aspects of the parent brand’s business practices as part of their decision-making process. If a franchisor takes steps to ensure that sustainable values are at the heart of its business, adapts and reviews its systems and processes to ensure it reduces its environmental footprint, and encourages and supports its franchisees and employees to make changes and conservation measures likely to give the brand a competitive advantage over others in the marketplace. Not only that, but an energy efficient and sustainable approach to doing business will most likely reduce operational costs and therefore result in a more profitable business model – a win-win situation for any potential franchisee investor.
Offering a sustainable business model offers benefits to both franchisor and franchisee, but is also important for society and the environment. A franchise brand that places sustainability and ethical values at the heart of its business model positions itself well to enjoy long-term commercial success, growth of its franchise network and the knowledge that they are making a positive difference.