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2021 Trends Report
Increase your brand relevance by leveraging ESG trends

Consumer & employee expectations have never been so high

Consumers expectations of brands are more demanding than ever. Nowadays brands need to implement environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles at the core of their business practices in order to be and stay relevant.

It is no longer enough to simply create a good product; Creating Social Capital™ is the new standard of doing business.

Furthermore, there is increasing pressure from investors for businesses to put ESG principles at the heart of their activities.

The UN has established sustainable development goals (SDG) to promote prosperity and save the planet. It is by following this international framework that Republik identified these 8 trends worth of mention for 2021.

See how to increase your brand's relevancy by leveraging ESG drivers such as diversity, equality, sustainability, transparency and mental health.

Interested to find out how our proprietary Creating Social Capital™ methodology can help you address the issues inherent to your business model? Let's talk.

Trend #1

Resilient organizations start with healthy and motivated people

How can companies increase their employees' health amidst the rise of work from home?

Due to the pandemic, 84% of Canadians have seen a decline in mental health (source).

Prevention is better than finding a cure
  1. Adapt the working schedule to the remote reality. Democratize mental health by offering flexibility and new mechanisms to break the routine.
  2. Create a safe space. Make your employees feel comfortable discussing mental needs with their managers without fearing for their job security.
  3. Collaborate with external resources. Promote healthy lifestyles to prevent ill health. Educate and offer employees access to measures and help tools.

This trend covers the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) #3: Good health and well-being.

Trend #2

Diversity is proving to be profitable

How will brands address the issues of social inequality beyond the BLM movement, without seeming opportunistic?

The most inclusive companies generate 1.4 times more revenue per employee on average, and consider themselves more capable of adapting to change (source).

Gender and ethnic diverse organisations perform better financially
  1. Hold your organisation accountable. Champion diversity by establishing goals and KPIs.
  2. Consider “culture add” (over culture fit) when filling a leadership role. Have a diverse pool of candidates to choose from as a hiring criteria.
  3. Tackle the different forms of equality- gender, LGBTQ, racial, education, ability, income.

This trend covers the SDG #10: Reduced inequalities.

Trend #3

Employees want more than a paycheck

How can brands attract and retain for the best talent when remote work is the new normal?

If a potential employer doesn’t have strong CSR practices, 64% of millennials won’t apply for the job (source).

Attract talent with a strong purpose
  1. Be intentional in developing a meaningful employer's brand. Take concrete actions to support it. Tell stories about that journey.
  2. Listen to your employees' demands. Foster informal ways by disrupting typical interaction patterns for employees to bond and voice their opinions.
  3. Invest in diversity. Search for different opinions to gain perspective.

This trend covers the SDG #8: Decent work and economic growth.

Trend #4

People expect organizations to walk the talk

How will brands avoid greenwashing in an increasingly demanding environment?

82% of American customers say they will continue to use a brand they trust, even if a competitor becomes popular and trendy. But misleading advertising erodes their confidence as they might boycott your brand (source).

In the age of radical transparency, it is time for leaders to take action
  1. Fact-based storytelling. Back your claims of green initiatives with facts.
  2. Implement concrete action steps with clear deadlines. Depict an honest picture of the progression of your ESG efforts with reports.
  3. Secure commitment from stakeholders with KPI development and established policies.
  4. Follow experts for best practices. Partner with credible organizations such as B-Corp and the Global Compact.

This trend covers the SDG #8: Decent work and economic growth.

Trend #5

Sustainability can't be an afterthought anymore

How can organizations be on the right side of history by prioritizing the environment while staying profitable?

70% of North Americans prefer companies that incorporate activities which preserve the environment and follow ethical practices (source).

Earning loyalty from environmentally-conscious consumers will result in outperfroming your industry
  1. Adopt a holistic approach by including sustainability in your brand’s core values and developing a measurement program.
  2. Show real, long-term commitment to environmental causes by taking a clear stance on issues you take to heart.
  3. Rethink your products' end of life to eliminate trash and waste.

This trend covers the SDG #13: Climate action.

Trend #6

Consumers wish to keep things local

How can companies leverage the local aspect while remaining authentic?

56% of surveyed people are shopping more locally sourced products, with 84% planning to continue with this behavior into the longer term (source).

People strive to actively support local businesses
  1. Leverage omnichannel services, such as home delivery, curb-side pickup or shopping via social media platforms.
  2. Keep the supply chain local to have fewer potential failure points when a crisis hit. Find nearby alternatives to distant suppliers.
  3. Invest in your community to recirculate revenues in your local network which will strengthen your neighborhood socially and economically.

This trend covers the SDG #12: Responsible consumption and production.

Trend #7

Supply chains hold the key to drive a more sustainable future

How can organizations rethink their supply chains to address climate change issues?

Companies with mature sustainable procurement programs reported several benefits – risk mitigation (88%), cost savings (35%), innovation (29%) and improved procurement metrics (53%) (source).

Procurement management decisions cascade over every business unit
  1. Be transparent about the supply chain and product availability to build trust with consumers, and avoid an unsatisfactory brand experience.
  2. Establish ambitious targets for value chain carbon emission reduction.
  3. Require first-tier suppliers to set their own long-term sustainability goals and include lower-tier suppliers in the overall sustainability strategy.

This trend covers the SDG #12: Responsible consumption and production.

Trend #8

E-commerce is growing faster than ever

How will companies adapt to a rapidly shifting e-commerce?

GlobalWebIndex found 51% of Gen Z and 54% of higher income consumers are likely to shop online more frequently post-pandemic (source).

Changes in consumer purchasing behavior are here to stay
  1. Connect your data to unlock audience insights. Gather first-party data to analyze and act on it.
  2. Unsilo your business departments: web, marketing, sales, communication and external agencies should all work together.
  3. Extend brand's physical ability to digital availability. Maximise your distribution's depth and breadth in time and space online.

This trend covers the SDG #9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure.

How relevant is your brand?