Traditionally, companies consider business and society as separate parts that are not interdependent. They’ve focused on B2B and B2C strategies, leaving people and planet issues largely to NGOs and governments. But we have stepped into a new era. Business activities profoundly impact society and the planet, causing a paradigm shift: companies will need to move away from mere B2B and B2C strategies and develop a B2S (business to society) strategy as their main right to exist.

Creating value system awareness: a shift in mindset leads to a different approach

Climate change, resource depletion, immigration, disruptive technological innovation: the world faces growing societal, digital, and ecological challenges that impact current business models. Companies need to change the way they think, behave, and create impact. Embracing a new way of working, positively impacting customers, consumers, planet and society.

At the core of this new way of working lies a profound shift in mindset which will ultimately lead to a change of strategy. This will only happen if we tap into the mindsets of the people in business. Research shows that sustainability strategies which address mindset shifts are 2.5 times more effective. Although we know that business is often part of the problem, but there is no reason why it can’t significantly contribute to the solution. After all, no business leader wakes up in the morning intending to increase CO2 emissions, pollute rivers, cause child labor, or violate animal rights. Many businesses create these negative effects because they’re unaware of the fundamental interconnectedness between business and society.

Business is part of society

What does the world need from our company? And what do we need from the world? These should be the first two questions on your mind when developing a B2S proposition. Why? Let’s consider some potential answers. You might require roads, trains, freshwater, healthy soil, fair market rules, reasonably priced logistics solutions, green electricity, and educated people to properly run your business. For a long time, companies have thought such things would be available forever — at no cost. Now, we all know that’s not the case. These resources come at a price; there is no such thing as a free lunch.

And that’s where the paradigm shift comes in. Once you recognize that your company cannot exist without everything the planet and society have to offer, you’ll realize business is part of (rather than apart from) a wider system — one that includes a healthy society and a resilient planet, which are prerequisites for success in the long run. But here’s the good news: together, business and brand leaders can create these things. And it’s in their enlightened self-interest.

Toward a B2S strategy: a world of possibilities

It’s paramount that you consider and measure the impact of your business activities on society and open your mind to the new opportunities offered by sustainability megatrends. If, for example, you’re a cheese manufacturer, you might consider the growing popularity of plant-based alternatives as a threat to your business model. But what if you respond to this development by investing in a new product and innovation strategy? You’ll future-proof your business and simultaneously contribute to a healthy society. Remember, Tesla would not have existed if Elon Musk hadn’t recognized the business potential of alternative energy for cars.Hence Tesla’s mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. While pursuing that mission, it has opened up an entirely new market reaching $162.34 billion in 2019, and it’s projected to reach $802.81 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 22.6%.

There’s a myriad of other examples we can think of — the sustainability megatrend is generating market opportunities with an estimated worth of 12 trillion dollars. So, it’s worth diving into the matter and exploring your company’s possible new markets and sustainable growth potential. Need some help and inspiration? Don’t hesitate to contact us. We are happy to take you through a two-hour workshop and help you discover how to translate TODAY’s sustainability challenges into TOMORROW’s new market opportunities for your business, tapping into our extensive experience, real-life cases, and success stories with our customers.

Muriel Arts, CEO