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Driving Profit Through Sustainability

A European retailer charts a comprehensive sustainability strategy.

A leading European retailer turned to BCG for help in sharpening its sustainability strategy. Sustainability was already important to the organization from the point of view of its values—and the company was already actively addressing it along many fronts. But these initiatives were uncoordinated. The retailer sought a more strategic and practical perspective. How could sustainability enhance competitive advantage?

BCG began by benchmarking the company's sustainability-related strategies against the efforts of both competitors and leading suppliers to understand the "state of the art." As a complement, BCG researched consumers to understand their priorities as well as their perception of the retailer and its efforts. Based on this foundation, BCG developed a long list of potential initiatives—and prioritized the list based on both opportunity size and the company’s "right to win." Ultimately, BCG and the retailer jointly crafted a sustainability strategy in tune with the company's broader business strategy and aspirations.

Results have been impressive. By focusing the company’s investments at the intersection of consumer demand and the client's advantage, the strategy promised profit growth via the expansion of the client's portfolio of sustainable products—and cost reduction as a result of more sustainable packaging and a more mindful approach to resource use across the value chain.

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