How Consumer Demand for Sustainable Practices Is Impacting Product Design

In today’s competitive marketplace, there are numerous factors that ultimately influence and sway a consumer’s purchasing decision. Not only has modern technology bolstered accessibility, but it has opened the gateway for consumers to research product reviews, specs, cost, and more, from virtually any location on their smartphones. Over the years, the purchasing experience has evolved – shifting consumer mindset towards safer, environmentally-conscious products and goods. 

With this changing demand comes the need for businesses to revamp every facet of the planning and production process to ensure green product design is a top priority. While product design sustainability harbors its own set of challenges, companies must also consider their entire strategy, developing a thorough understanding of how they can bridge the gap between the product and the end-user to enhance the consumer experience. 

The Future of Sustainable Product Design 

To create a more ecological footprint, organizations must begin by analyzing operations to identify opportunities for improvement. Additionally, leadership and business executives should consider educating themselves on topics like climate change and eco-friendly practices to understand how they can implement changes on both a macro and micro level. 

In a survey conducted by the New York University Center for Sustainable Business, consumers stated they were willing to pay a higher price tag for sustainably-produced products. What’s more, researchers found that shoppers weren’t just talking the talk, they had the receipts to prove they were buying more sustainable goods. Using environmentally-conscious products has also shown a corresponding increase in consumer enjoyment and experience when using products. 

This new consumer mindset not only demonstrates a greater demand for sustainable product design but for businesses, it means higher consumer expectations – and mounting pressure – for companies to adapt their operations to be more eco-friendly.

How Businesses Can Adopt Climate-Friendly Practices

With the formation of organizations like the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the framework is now being developed across industries to provide businesses with standardized measurement tools. These resources will be able to help organizations measure their environmental and social impact. 

By assessing these types of metrics, companies can adequately identify inefficiencies, address flaws, enhance their performance from a sustainability perspective, and exercise transparency with their customer base. This will bolster trust and credibility between an organization and its target audience while helping move the needle forward on reducing waste and carbon dioxide emissions. 

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A product’s entire lifecycle should be considered – including raw materials, production, distribution, end-of-life, and consumption. Organizations should be asking themselves questions like, “If an entire product is unable to be refurbished or recycled, are there ways in which it can be dismantled to create other products?” And, “For each phase of the product lifecycle, how can we optimize efficiency in order to reduce waste and conserve resources?”

This is the point where organizations will face the main challenge of product design sustainability. After identifying appropriate measures that can be incorporated across the supply chain, businesses must find strategic ways to be eco-friendly while also overcoming cost-related issues. 

Overcoming Challenges via a Sustainable Product Design Firm

One of the ways we address these obstacles at CHOi Design is through the use of circular economy practices. Many companies are leveraging direct product innovation by including recycled materials in their products. Organizations can also incorporate cutting-edge product and service models. IKEA is a great example of a brand adapting existing services to provide greener solutions. Right now, they are in the beginning stages of testing out a furniture rental and leasing program. This type of offering would reduce IKEA’s use of materials and resources, providing a mutually beneficial solution for both the consumer and their organization. 

To truly see the widespread impact of adopting new practices, businesses (regardless of size) must embed sustainability into their values and company culture. Transforming operations – even on the departmental level – is a pivotal piece of the puzzle when it comes to satisfying new consumer demands. Internally, it’s also advantageous as employees themselves have the opportunity to experience the rewarding and beneficial effects of using sustainable business practices.

Interested in environmentally-friendly or sustainable product design? Contact our experts today to learn more about our process!