Last week I attended Sustainable Brands London at The Beaumont Estate in Windsor. It was a three day event of which I only attended the last one. It wasn’t for event planners (as the ones I usually attend) but I still picked up few excellent tips I can use to run more sustainable events. Here are my takeaways.
Excite your audience about renewable energy
The highlight of the morning session was a presentation by Laurence Kemball-Cook founder and CEO at Pavegen Systems which is a flooring tile that converts steps into electrical power. It has two main applications, first is that energy is stored in batteries and used for lighting later on and secondly for data, e.g.- how fast people move. Company’s vision is to use this data to convert it into something tangible companies can use to interact with customers. One of the projects they had was with Shell where they installed a football pitch in Brazilian favela so the kids could play safely at night. It was very successful and their vision is to install it in stadiums around the world. Laurence is also a great speaker and can excite the audience about renewable energy! His presentation is available online so definitely recommend you to watch.
In the afternoon we could choose between three different sessions, one of which was “Communicating Sustainability at a Brand Level: A Close Look at What is Working, and What Isn’t, for the 15 Largest Global FMCG Companies”. Matthew Yeomans, founder of Sustainly talked about the research they conducted online observing the way brands communicate sustainability to their audience on Facebook and how audience interacts with it. They found out that while brands don’t communicate it enough on Facebook, audience engages in the comment section about certain topics, Nespresso capsules for example. Another interesting point he mentioned was that if you, as a brand, want to communicate sustainability you should use visuals as they are more engaging than text. Takeaway from this session was that Facebook is still one of the major social media channels and brands should use it to communicate sustainability and not only as a sales and marketing platform.
Driving behavioural change
Second session was about behavioural change “On a Quest for Solving Ever More Complex Behavior Change Challenges: Emerging New Tools and Frameworks” moderated by Joss Tantram Founding Partner at Terrafiniti and hosted Alex Batchelor, Chief Operations Officer at BrainJuicer and Sille Krukow, Chief Behavioral Designer at Krukow. Alex talked about consumer behaviour and said that before engaging people in sustainability we need to understand human behaviour. He showed some examples, e.g. when logging into wifi it can be anything from 22 to 4 inputs, thus showing that designing sustainable behaviour is making life easier, not more complicated. Also he mentioned that the language brands use to communicate sustainability can play a major role in decision making.
Sille’s talk was more from an academic point of view and looked at theories such as “designing choice architecture” – instead of creating more awareness on sustainability guide employees and customers to change behaviour. Examples include reducing plate size at food buffets, and instead of saying “don’t” show how to do the right thing, e.g. – indicating where to dispose cigarette butts.
To conclude, motivation and education don’t lead to behavioural change, therefore behavioural change is how to change customer and employee behaviour in a way that they will be comfortable with it and embrace the change.
In the closing session the founder and CEO of SB brands KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz announced that from next year the event will be moving to the capital of sustainable meetings, Copenhagen and Ulrika Mårtensson from Wonderful Copenhagen took the stage to welcome everyone next year in Copenhagen. I really admire how committed the team at Wonderful Copenhagen is and how they engage the different stakeholders to promote the city and its USPs internationally. Ulrika was joined by Thomas Kloster founder at WhereGoodGrows and Inge Huijbrechts, Global Vice President Responsible Business at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group and Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel, where the event will take place. The hotel is known as a frontrunner within sustainable hotel management and they are aiming to welcome about 500 participants.
Overall the event was very good and provided excellent content. There were few points they can improve in the future.
First of all in terms of marketing, the event was branded as Sustainable Brands London which is wrong as it took place in Windsor. It is not relevant anymore as the event will be moving to Copenhagen next year but just a takeaway for event planners to be aware of it.
Secondly sustainable practices weren’t present at the venue or the event. Feedback forms for example were in paper format rather than electronic. The venue itself is not classified as a sustainable venue and I would expect for such conference to take place at a sustainable venue, e.g. -The Crystal. On the other hand I assume the organisers chose this venue because it is close to Heathrow airport and many delegates came from oversees.
Lastly I found the afternoon sessions too long, up to 1.5 hours. It is not so easy to stay concentrated for so long so I would highly recommend doing shorter sessions and maybe more interactive, especially after lunch break .
I have no doubt that from next year the event will have a new approach to sustainability, offering the delegates the chance not only to hear about it but also to be more engaged and implement it.
See you next year in Copenhagen!