CASE STUDIES

The following provides a brief overview of some of Orion GBSC’s very successful business sustainability outcomes.
 
Feel free to ask us to discuss any of the examples in more detail, or for other examples that may be even more relevant to your business.
 
RISK ASSESSMENT & RISK MANAGEMENT PLANS

 

 

Focus:  Sustainability Strategy Development – Overall Assessment, Issues Prioritization, Strategy

 

Situation

Companies often define their sustainability actions in reaction to external stakeholders and/or crises. This leaves them vulnerable to catering to other parties’ agendas that may not be the most substantive for them.

Obstacles

Sustainability risk assessments often are qualitatively derived, based on inputs from discussions with some stakeholders.

Actions

We added a quantitative process to company risk assessment, that estimates its social and environmental aggregate footprint (including scope 3/ supply chain), and identifies key issues to proactively focus on.

Results

A credible, efficiently targeted sustainability direction that proactively aligned with the company’s strategy, structure, objectives, culture, and plans. The company is well-prepared for events and crises as they arise, and is well positioned to take advantage of value creating opportunities to grow sales and profits.

 

 

Focus:  Product Supply Chain Assessment and Action Planning

 

Situation

Many companies have a high % of their total environmental and social footprints in their product supply chains, which they are increasingly accountable for.

Obstacles

Generally companies start with a low level of visibility into their supply chains, which makes deciding on the most effective targeted actions difficulty, and vulnerable to reacting to a stakeholder’s agenda. The cost of LCAs and footprint assessments can be prohibitive for many companies.

Actions

We led a very cost effective risk assessment of this retailer’s 4,000 private label product portfolio, identifying in its global supply chain where high carbon footprints, water threats, labour issues, and biodiversity impacts presented risks. Product ingredient sources and packaging material types were addressed.

Results

The retailer found out which product categories drive the majority of risk in each impact category, and could target specific suppliers in locations most vulnerable to these risks, for efficiency improvements, footprint reductions, and planning of backup suppliers in case of disruption.

 

 
CARBON FOOTPRINT ASSESSMENT & REDUCTION - OWN FACILITIES & SUPPLY CHAINS

Focus:  Direct Operations / Own Facilities

 

Situation

This company had a large number of locations, but had no idea of the aggregate carbon footprint they created nor which areas contributed disproportionately.

Obstacles

There would be a steep learning curve in calculating the footprints, and in capturing the data required to do so.

Actions

An initiative was created so that companies in a sector could pre-competitively collaborate to share a calculating and reporting tool (but not see each other’s data). This company worked with its finance / payables dept. to harvest required data during invoice processing.

Results

The company quickly and cost effectively was able to calculate its scope 1&2 carbon footprint, and to analyze its portfolio of facilities to identify where to target improvements for maximum cost reduction and ROI.

 

 

Focus:  Cleantech Adoption for Cost Reduction

 

Situation

Companies often find it difficult to assess and adopt new cleantech solutions, meaning lost opportunities for cost reduction and sustainability performance improvement.

Obstacles

Cleantech solutions often require a lot of new considerations and types of data collection to prepare a business case. Companies often have CSR objectives but have not integrated them into their capex decision making.

Actions

Business cases were developed for various types of energy efficiency, natural refrigerants, and organic waste mgmt. solutions. Sustainability criteria were added to capex decision templates.

Results

Cleantech solutions were more quickly piloted, and rolled out to the best targeted facilities (see case study above), achieving significant cost reductions. Capital expense decisions aligned with CSR objectives.

 

 

Focus:  Product Supply Chains

 

Situation

This company knew from industry insights that most of its carbon footprint was in its product supply chains, scope 3. It did not however know the “80/20” allocation within its supply chain.

Obstacles

The company had thousands of products, and many more ingredients and packaging material types. Traditional LCAs for each were out of the question, given their cost and long time to prepare, and were unnecessary given that the question that needed an answer was: what product categories should we focus carbon reduction efforts on?

Actions

A very cost effective analysis was performed, using a 3rd party life cycle inventory dbase.

Results

The company identified which ingredients, packaging material types, and product categories accounted for 90% of its scope 3 carbon footprint. It could then (a) target specific suppliers for improvements, and (b) collaborate with others in the sector to drive systemic improvements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUSTAINABLE SOURCING - MATERIALITY, SUPPLIER ENGAGEMENT, TRANSPARENCY, ASSESSMENT, TARGETED IMPROVEMENT, STANDARDS, CERTIFICATION

Focus:  Product/Ingredient Source Transparency

 

Situation

This company sourced these perishable commodities from all over the world, through brokers and processors.

Obstacles

The brokers and processors largely did not know where their products were sourced from, making it impossible to assess where major sustainability issues were found.

Actions

A B2B reporting tool was introduced, and suppliers were required to input information about the source of the products sold to the buying company.

Results

By cross referencing the supplier sourcing data with a sustainability assessment tool, the buying company was able to identify which sources caused the largest impacts, and then to target those sources for improvements.

 

 

Focus:  Strategy - Improving Supplier Sustainability Performance

 

Situation

“Gold standard” certification can be an expensive and slow process. This company wanted to show leadership by driving improvements sooner without sacrificing profitability.

Obstacles

“Gold standard” certification is the approach some NGOs push, is easier to explain and simpler to execute for a buying company because it delegates it to suppliers. But it generally focuses on suppliers with good to decent performance, pushing smallish improvements, while the poor performers are not addressed.

Actions

An alternative strategy was developed, “fix the worst first”, whereby all suppliers provided sustainability performance data, and those with the poorest performance were targeted for improvements

Results

The buying company was able to demonstrate leadership by driving more significant nearer term improvements, while also not only maintaining but growing sales and profits. It also received a lot of accolades from many stakeholders for its innovative and pragmatic strategy.

 

 

Focus:  Supplier Engagement for Sustainability Performance Improvement

 

Situation

This company had over 150 suppliers globally for the products and ingredients it sold. The buying company had to drive improvements among its suppliers.

Obstacles

The suppliers were largely new to sustainability issues and had very little in-house expertise about it. The buying company’s relationship with them often focused on squeezing costs, and short term relationships.

Actions

A supplier engagement strategy was developed, which sought to create value for them by educating them on sustainability, which would benefit them for all their customers.

Results

Through a combination of supplier surveys, conferences hosted by the buying company, webinars, facilitating NGO collaboration for learning, and reporting, the buying company was able to activate sustainability improvements among its suppliers in a relatively short time.

 

Focus:   Supplier Sustainability Performance Assessment

 

Situation

Industry practice has been for each buying company to have its own supplier assessment process. This created “audit fatigue” among suppliers who had numerous customers.

Obstacles

Different buying companies, or the auditing companies they chose, tended to ask the same things in slightly different ways. As more companies began evaluating the sustainability performance in their supply chains, audit fatigue grew worse.

Actions

This buying company opted to avoid creating its own proprietary supplier assessment / audit forms. Instead it joined a leading edge industry collaborative initiative focused on creating recognized equivalency among a key set of audit standards. It focused its proprietary efforts on developing a supplier input tool that produced a tracking dashboard for buying company buyers to easily view non-compliance suppliers by exception, allowing them to only focus on them.

Results

The company saved significant sums of money, suppliers avoided the costly audit fatigue, and supplier performance improved more quickly since there tended to be a harmonized set of improvements sought among customers.

 

 

Focus:   B2C Product Traceability

Situation

Consumers want more information about where the products they buy come from.

Obstacles

Supply chains can be convoluted, with many players, and comingling of raw material from many different producers.

Actions

This company launched a wild seafood traceability initiative, which allowed consumers to input a product code at a website (or scan a GR code), to find out the fisherman’s name, photo, ship name/photo, map where the fish was caught, and information about the species.

Results

Many consumers traced their wild seafood source, building sales and profits from these higher margin products, and building customer loyalty for the transparency and responsibility the company demonstrated. The initiative attracted widespread media coverage and social media approvals, greatly enhancing the company’s reputation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEVELOPING GREENER PRODUCTS, CONSUMER INSIGHTS / ANALYTICS, BRANDING, LAUNCHES, SALES GROWTH

Focus:  Mainstream Consumer Adoption of Greener & Healthier Products: Consumer Insights / Analytics

 

Situation

Greener product sales are still stuck in low share of market in most categories. Many companies wrongly believe this is due to consumer apathy.

Obstacles

Companies often misread the mainstream consumer. The consumer opportunity lies in “getting” that it is “latent demand”, waiting to be tapped by insightful companies, without forcing consumer sacrifices in price, performance, and convenience.

Actions

We use our deep insights plus company info such as research, CRM, CSAT, geodemographic, sales and category analyses to segment, target, cluster sales growth opportunities for greener products.

Results

Many successful results achieved thru improved targeting and communication, understanding pathways of adoption and defining sequential adoption of greener and healthier product categories. Ultimately success is driven by helping consumers overcome their “aspiration gaps”.

 

 

Focus:  Product Development Process for Greener and Healthier Products

 

Situation

There have been many greener product failures, often due to branding, credibility, product features/ benefits /pricing ill-defined and/or ill-communicated.

Obstacles

There are many nuances about developing and marketing greener products, why defy just using standard approaches. Orion GBSC offers deep insight into target consumer needs and has proven success.

Actions

To increase success rates for greener products, we added to companies’ existing product development processes, at appropriate points in the Gantt charts:

  • Deeper target segment insights

  • Branding needs

  • Product attribute definition

  • Ingredient specification

  • Sourcing criteria

  • Sourcing verification needs

Results

Companies significantly increased success rates for new greener products, driving sales, profits, and customer loyalty. Relevant sustainability standards were evaluated in each situation, and decisions made whether an eco-label was required, and if so, which one was most credible.

 

 

Focus:  Magnifying Greener Product Sales Growth thru Integrated Marketing and Merchandising

 

Situation

Many greener products, even when targeted and developed with keen insights, fail to meet company objectives for sales, profitability, and market share.

Obstacles

Greener products lack of success frequently is from ineffective execution, from not creating enough awareness and compelling reasons for trial, to being lost on shelf and located in the wrong part of the store (i.e. in the “Green” Department, where only the small % of existing green shoppers are exposed).

Actions

We have led numerous very successful new greener brand /product launches through diligent cross functional planning and project mgmt. All relevant marketing elements are included, i.e. packaging, advertising, promotions, online/social media/ mobile, PR, CRM, POS, merchandising, as well as retail employee training.

Results

Companies, whether manufacturers / brand owners or retailers, over-achieved their greener product sales, profits, and market share projections, and drove more customer loyalty.

 

 

Focus:  International Market Launches

Situation

Market dynamics are different in every country, even in regions of countries.

Obstacles

Some companies extrapolate past market success /criteria to new market launches, with disappointing results.

Actions

We have driven launches / re-launches of brands, products, retailers, restaurants in countries such as Egypt, Turkey, Canada, USA. Comprehensive planning included consumer insights, to channel development, procurement, supply chain, and marketing.

Results

Launches and re-launches have consistently outperformed forecasts. We have also very successfully worked with local market incumbent leaders to defend against new competitors launching into the market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTEGRATING SUSTAINABILITY INTO THE CORE BUSINESS

Focus:  Leadership Development

 

Situation

Companies’ sustainability adoption levels come in all stages. Sometimes driven by CEO, other times tacitly endorsed from above while driven by some middle mgrs.

Obstacles

Successful business sustainability outcomes, including reduced env. & social impacts, increased sales & profits, reduced costs, improved risk profiles and reputations, need buy-in from top to bottom. Often there are disconnects: the CEO and/or C-Suite “gets it”, but other senior execs don’t, or middle mgrs. face barriers due to lack of all senior exec buy-in.

Actions

We have worked with all levels, from CEOs and C-Suites to Senior Executives to middle mgrs. Initiatives included risk assessment / profiling / prioritization, issues education, business cases, advisory committees, integrating into objective setting and process planning, regular status / results reporting templates and preparation, etc.

Results

Business sustainability outcomes dramatically improved with each level of buy-in, alignment, and activation. We even turned around an underperforming business unit using a variety of actions including visualization techniques to drive leadership team alignment of optimizing sales and profits focused on greener consumers. 

 

 

Focus:  Employee Engagement

 

Situation

Employees often come in 2 groups when it comes to their business’ sustainability direction: (1) motivated but unaware of what to do, or (2) aware but not enabled.

Obstacles

Business sustainability programs often are treated like any other new initiative or project: launched with fanfare, then not supported well nor followed thru on.

Actions

We have driven employee engagement in business sustainability through ongoing commitments to education, training, providing relevant criteria and decision support tools, reporting, and communications (town halls, intranets, e-Learning modules, seminars (in person and webinars)).

Results

Business sustainability outcomes dramatically improve when employees are engaged, aligned, immersed, and enabled.

 

 

Focus:  NGO Engagement

 

Situation

NGOs tend to come in 2 “flavours”: activists intent on provoking a company to change, or partnership-oriented seeking to work with it to drive change.

Obstacles

Some companies tend to hide from NGOs, perceiving them as no-win engagements. Other companies tend to over-react to the threat of activist NGOs or accept NGO guidance without vetting it and adapting it carefully enough.

Actions

We have engaged dozens of NGOs globally, both activists and partners. We have learned how to listen, defuse, accommodate, push back, credibly defend, and/or collaborate to enhance a company’s direction and outcomes.

Results

Effective NGO engagement can help strengthen business sustainability performance, reduce company risks, and build company reputations.

 

 

Focus:  Integrating into Existing Business Processes

 

Situation

Business sustainability initiatives very often are treated as ad hoc, often housed in marketing, communications, or government relations depts.

Obstacles

When treated as ad hoc, sustainability outcomes are often muted and the company’s commitment to sustainability can be viewed as lacking. Implementation, to the degree it happens, can be based on adding new, parallel processes which add complexity.

Actions

“What gets measured gets done.” We have driven integration of sustainability by incorporating it into existing processes, including annual performance objective setting, 3rd party selection criteria, making sustainability data available and analyzed at parity to other data for decision making purposes, adding criteria to capex approval templates, adding to agendas for existing meetings, incorporating into project mgmt. steps, etc.

Results

Business sustainability outcomes magnify when appropriately integrated – based on an appropriate evolution timeline. There is often a lot of “low hanging fruit” and early wins need to be carefully chosen. It can be very exciting for employees to see what they individually and the company overall can accomplish, which drives retention and recruitment (as well as sales, cost reduction, profitability, reputations, etc.).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

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