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December 28, 2018

Nine Design Strategies to Inspire Sustainable Profits | Part Two

The terms “complete life-cycle analysis” and “cradle-to-cradle” design– once relatively esoteric concepts for a passionate cadre of environmental innovators– have now captured the imagination of product development and packaging design mainstream. As a team of designers and marketing strategists who have long embraced these principles, we at Austin West (AW) couldn’t be more thrilled. Yet we are also a bit concerned. Do these terms represent a true shift in thinking among the corporate mainstream? More importantly, in this topsy-turvy economy, will companies that authentically seek to employ these strategies be able to generate profitable business results? Will they have the business acumen, courage, and marketing savvy needed to translate these idyllic principles into sustainable real-world results?

As we (AW) survey the current corporate landscape, we are guardedly optimistic. We see scarcity-minded executives focusing on sustainability almost exclusively through the lens of material cost/waste-reduction, overlooking fabulous new opportunities for innovation. We see marketing budgets being impulsively slashed, with existing monies allocated in ways that unwittingly minimize the ROI potential for precious advertising dollars. More than we’d like to admit, we see the distribution of promising, environmentally oriented products packaged in ways that demonstrate little insight into the psychology of the targeted consumer groups, as short-cutting the immense potential to attract new customers into the environmental consciousness fold. However, we also see an unprecedented collective opportunity to transform the consumer goods markets through innovative design strategies and psychologically sophisticated communications.