How Central Should E&SR Be To Your Product Strategy? Ask Your Customers

Sally-Cohen [posted by Sally M. Cohen]

Last week, we published an important new report about Environmentally & Socially Responsible (E&SR) product strategy, which introduced a framework for parsing different approaches to E&SR consumer products. The Centricity Model Of E&SR Consumer Product Strategy identifies four levels of product strategy, based on how central a role E&SR plays. The approaches range from Level 1, the most explicit -- a flagship "green" product -- to a very implicit Level 4 approach in which consumers may not even recognize a product's socially responsible features.

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We see examples of companies approaching E&SR consumer product strategy at each level of the Centricity Model in the market today. What's more, we see companies simultaneously operating at multiple levels by launching flagship products that loudly tout E&SR features while quietly making all products in their portfolios more environmentally responsible.

The model invites self-reflection -- How central is E&SR to my consumer product strategy today? And, more importantly, self-evaluation -- How central should E&SR be to my products tomorrow and beyond?

The answer to this longer-term question should come from an important source: your customers. Are your customers die-hard environmentalists or are they more mainstream consumers who are equally concerned with the health of the planet as they are with the health of their families? How important is it to your customers that the E&SR products that they buy send a message to other consumers through distinctive design or branding? Are your customers actually seeking out a "greener" dishwasher, or are they simply more focused on cutting their household water and energy bills?

Crafting a winning E&SR consumer product strategy means closely aligning your approach to E&SR -- product, positioning, and messaging -- with your customers' needs. The best way to do that -- and to find the answers to the questions above -- is to talk with your customers. If you're not sure what to say, Forrester can help.

For more information, Forrester clients can see the report, "Environmental And Social Responsibility In Consumer Product Strategies."

Comments

re: How Central Should E&SR Be To Your Product Strategy? Ask Yo

Very helpful chart...thanks Sally. I wonder how the greenwashing will affect the model (especially the left side of the chart) going forward as consumers get more cynical about companies only touting flagship products & not going "whole hog".--Ryan