How to put in place an eco-design approach?
Define objectives and a strategy

The eco-design approach must be part of the broader corporate strategy framework, primarily due to the fact that communication based on sustainable arguments raises questions about corporate identity and triggers new customer behavior: questions on the coherence between talk and action, on the “traditional” offer available up until now (“does this mean it was environmentally hazardous?”).

Prior to embarking on an eco-design approach, the manager must prioritize the marketing objectives associated with the eco-design logic, such as:
  1. Reduce exposure to the environmental risk (extended producer responsibility, increase in the price of raw materials and energy, etc.),
  2. Innovate via a new R&D approach,
  3. Respond to an identified market need (fill in a gap in the offer),
  4. Promote a new image.

As the objective increasingly focuses on the market (criteria 3 and 4), examination of the eventual coherence of the entire corporate strategy becomes inescapable, to avoid falling into the “Green Washers” category. In all cases, we recommend that criteria 1 and 2 be thoroughly examined, as they are key to a “sustainable-profitable” approach.

Once the objectives have been clarified and the associated constraints seriously evaluated, two major strategic options stand out:

  • Migration strategy: the idea is to progressively replace the traditional offer with an eco-designed offer, covering all legitimate domains; decisions are made based on the life cycle of the offers and associated markets. The first step may consist of proposing a single “green product” in the catalogue, in which case communication must be handled appropriately to avoid Green Washing. At this stage, some companies opt for communication focused on innovation and not the environment.

  • Transformation strategy: more costly, it provides maximum legibility as all stakeholders (notably customers and staff) immediately understand the logic behind the company’s new orientation. The offer is overhauled within a limited and advertised timeframe (declared strategic objective). The market maturity study is a key success factor for this strategy.