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What Big Data Can Do For Sustainability In Business

Apr. 27, 2016 ⋅ Categories: Analytics, Big Data

After the recent recognition of Earth Day, you may be considering the ways you can lessen your environmental impact. If so, you’re not alone.

Living in a more ecologically conscious age, retailers are concerned with the sustainability factor of their businesses. Of course, these thoughts aren’t entirely altruistic. As much as these efforts help the planet, they also give brands a discerning advantage from their competitors. However, it’s about more than promising a green product. Being sustainable also hinges on being able to show consumers quantifiable evidence.

Leveraging Sustainability For Stronger Marketing
That was the challenge for Reformation, a clothing company that makes its products using sustainable materials and environmentally friendly manufacturing methods. The company’s founder Yael Aflalo told CNBC that she began offering a way for her customers to compare the environmental impact of a piece of clothing to the industry average.

“It’s tricky to call yourself a ‘sustainable’ company because, of course, not everything is perfect,” she said. “This is a way to track what we are doing and how we can get better.”

“Big data allows businesses to take sustainability efforts to the next level.”

What powers this tool? Big data of course. By aggregating information from various environmental trackers, Aflalo can actually show her customers the difference they make by choosing her clothes.

Already an important part of marketing, big data is now allowing businesses to take their sustainability efforts to the next level. Brendan Doherty, co-founder of event production company Inward Point, told CNBC that leveraging sustainability can build brand loyalty as more consumers look for products with eco-friendly benefits.

Because of the number of factors at play, being sustainable has often been an elusive goal for businesses. John Hsu, an expert in sustainability data at the Carbon Trust, wrote for the Guardian that big data relies on three essential factors when it comes to sustainability. These are the understanding of how businesses impact the environment, how consumers engage with businesses and the interactions that occur within the natural world.

However, with the tools to gather and analyze large sets of data, retailers can now extract meaning from this information and drive their business forward with it. According to Hsu, businesses no longer need to jump through complicated hoops to understand their environmental impact.

The Impact Beyond Retail
On an even larger scale, big data is fueling projects that offer answers to environmental issues, like air pollution, according to Scientific American. While not necessarily related to a business’ sustainability efforts, these bigger picture consequences only show how powerful this information can be.

Whether it’s improving your marketing or carbon footprint, with the right resources, your big data analytics projects could produce remarkable results as well.

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