Utilising a consumer-focused approach to influence sustainable consumption

Changing consumer demands, forthcoming legislation and an increase in pressure from stakeholders has encouraged companies to integrate sustainability principles into their business and marketing strategies (Sarkis, Gonzalez-Torre & Adenso-Diaz 2010). As a result, many improvements have been achieved with respect to sustainable consumption and production. However, there still remains the need to address the social and environmental impacts associated with the purchasing, use and end of life of products and services (Mont, Bleischwitz 2007). This paper presents preliminary findings from doctoral research aiming to build a model supported by user-centred design (UCD) that can guide companies to influence sustainable consumption (SC). The paper will first describe the role of industry in influencing SC and argue that to motivate consumers to purchase, use and dispose of products more sustainably; decisions must be made at a strategic level so that actions towards SC are incorporated throughout the business, not just within product design and marketing. The authors will explain how the research drew on the principles of user-centred design (UCD), but developed a more holistic perspective to create a self-assessment and implementation model that can increase opportunities for companies to leverage SC at a strategic level. The findings of empirical research, which formed the framework theory and led to the development of the BCDS model, will be discussed. Then the BCDS model and accompanying Sustainable Consumption Index (SCI), which measures the levels of SC that a company can achieve through selecting and implementing different consumer-focused strategies devised from this doctoral research, will be introduced. Finally, the paper will conclude with an outline of future work to be conducted.