We were thrilled to join over 2,000 global band and sustainability leaders this month at SB’19 Detroit. Sustainable Brands gathers together executives from all over the world for this incredible conference and Innovation Summit. This year we joined execs from over 35 countries to talk about sustainability and social impact. Through the panels on which we spoke, the ones we attended, and the conversations we had with other attendees throughout the conference, we learned, shared, and were inspired to help create the Good Life.
Our CEO and Co-founder Dan Ratner joined an eclectic group of artists, scientists and media executives on the panel “Driving Behavior Change and Cultural Shift by Immersing Consumers with Interactive Content, VR, AR and Art.” Panelists ranging from a National Geographic Explorer to an Executive Editor at Huffington Post discussed how to draw people in through experiences in technology and art, and engage consumers in new ways to inspire them to take action. Dan emphasized the importance of action for consumers, and how critical it is to give people something meaningful they can do.
The next day Melissa Anderson, our President and Co-founder, discussed innovations in digital consumer engagement on environmental and social issues on the panel “Building Good Life Communities of Action Online by Utilizing New Digital Marketing and Storytelling Tools.” Melissa busted some myths about engagement, actions, and donations. While organizations often think that giving people multiple actions to take will cannibalize donations, Melissa pointed to data that show giving people multiple ways to engage with a cause actually raises more money than simply asking them to donate. “Our advice to those looking to inspire people is to meet them where they are.” It sounds simple, but it can be complex to implement, especially when the focus is solely on donations. But meeting people wherever they are on the ladder of engagement can help move them through the funnel, drive more donations, and create more loyal brand ambassadors. We’re glad that data we’ve collected can back up these critical impact ideas.
We also attended some incredible keynotes and discussions. Linda Walker, Director of Forests for the World Wildlife Fund, gave an inspiring keynote with reason for hope. Companies have more opportunities than ever before to scale up their efforts to protect forests and still meet their business goals. We’re all in the forest business — if you ship, manufacture clothes, food, tires — whatever — you use forests. “No matter what business you’re in, you need forests, and forests desperately need you.” She taught the entire room why this mission is “everyone’s business.” Yumi Clevenger-Lee, CMO of Nestle Waters NA also gave us reason for optimism by pointing out that “focus on Innovation lifts all boats.” “We have a common issue and we can create a greater impact if we work together,” she told the room in the plenary session. “We can solve the problems faster and more completely if we collaborate.” We loved hearing all week about brands working together to solve problems!
Another keynote we loved was on Thursday, delivered by CMO of Danone, Valérie Hernando-Presse. Her observation that the future will be moving from a business-to-consumer model to a “human-to-human” model inspired us. “Consumers do not exist,” she told us. “People do.” When we change our thinking in this way, all our actions become more meaningful. Even eating makes a difference — “Food is politics. Each consumption act is a political act.” Her talk galvanized all of us to work harder to make a difference, following her lead. She wants all of Danone’s companies to be people-powered brands, acting as true activists, taking a stand, and acting consistently over time. The fact that the room was filled with people who share those values, and the conference was supported by executives talking about how brands can better the world and also achieve their business goals filled us with excitement about what’s to come from socially conscious brands!