Sustainability Survey 2020 | Smurfit Kappa & Financial Times
Sustainability Survey


Sustainability reshapes the business landscape for good

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Smurfit Kappa has worked with the Financial Times to conduct a piece of research to answer some of the most pressing questions when it comes to sustainability.

There’s now no doubt about it: sustainability is an existential challenge of our time. As businesses come to grips with the ongoing implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are recognising the far-reaching impacts their choices can have. If anything, growing social and environmental awareness has hardened into an urgent call to act, with rising pressure to reduce the impact of climate change and consumption. 

Find out how the sustainability effect is reshaping businesses for the better and explore new business must-haves.

Striking the balance between sustainability and profitability. 

In the face of this uncertainty, leading businesses—whether industry incumbent, challenger brand or disrupter—are moving from global conversation to corporate action. And in their push to remain relevant, it’s never been more important for them to strike the balance between sustainability and profitability. 

Our new research supports this:

  • 83% of businesses describe sustainability as a business opportunity to be exploited. 
  • 72% say that sustainability is a lasting trend. 
  • 74% say they won’t wait for their competitors to up the ante before they define their own benchmarks for success.  

What will you learn from this research report

So what can today’s businesses do? And how can they connect their corporate reporting to sustainability goals in order to demonstrate action and prove effectiveness? On the other side of the equation, what do consumers expect from the businesses they buy products and services from?  

Our new research sought to answer these questions, and it finds that businesses operating in this new age of sustainability will have to:  

  • Recognise that sustainability is a catalyst for change and creates opportunities for growth. 
  • Balance sustainability practices with profitability if they want to gain long-term stakeholder buy-in.  
  • Understand that with the ascendancy of Millennials and Generation Z, corporate culture must align with social calls for action.  
  • Align themselves with consumer expectations of sustainability in order to strengthen brand-customer relationships.  

About the research

Data cited in this report is based on two surveys commissioned by Smurfit Kappa and conducted by Longitude, a division of The Financial Times, in January 2020. The first, a survey of 200 UK business leaders and senior executives, investigated attitudes and approaches to corporate sustainability across FMCG, retail and e-commerce and consumer products. 

The second, a survey of 1,500 UK consumers, investigated consumer attitudes and beliefs towards sustainability, their impact on consumer behaviour, and consumer expectations of corporate sustainability practices. 

While this research was conducted in the weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout Europe, we believe that the need for businesses and consumers to act on sustainability are no less urgent. As companies come to grips with the fall-out of the pandemic, we believe this will foster corporate sustainability as business imperative, rather than competitive advantage. 

In addition to the quantitative research, Longitude also undertook a series of in-depth qualitative interviews between January and March 2020, to gather insights into the corporate sustainability in practice. They include: 

  • Véronique Cremades-Mathis, Global Head of Sustainable Packaging, Nestlé
  • Gian De Belder, Principal Scientist, Procter & Gamble
  • Simon Boas Hoffmeyer, Senior Director, Group Sustainability & Communications, Carlsberg Group
  • Ioannis Ioannou, Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, London Business School
  • Loukia Tzekaki, Corporate Communications & Sustainability Associate Director, Procter & Gamble
  • Arco Berkenbosch, Vice President of Innovation and Development, Smurfit Kappa
  • Steven Stoffer, Vice President of Sustainability and Development, Smurfit Kappa

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