Consumer expectations of sustainability
Nick Morgan, We are the Fair
An excerpt from the ‘Good Event Guide‘ by GL events UK
Social and environmental awareness is not just ‘on-trend’, but in fact is fast becoming a cornerstone of mass tourism, and this needs to be looked at as a holistic, pragmatic long-term approach that manages the environmental, social and financial risks across people, planet and profit.
Realistically, when looking at sustainability and CSR in the events/festival sector, there is still a long way to go. Running festivals, like large scale events, is a supply chain. There are a lot of people and businesses involved in that process and when one of those contributors, for example suppliers, is not thinking consciously, then it becomes extremely difficult to honour your sustainable principles.
We are noticing a change within the festival environment – sustainability is becoming key in the thought processes behind staging an event that has large impacts on the economy and the environment. These changes are largely coming from the landowners/venue owners themselves, particularly the savvy ones, who are providing a more flexible, but specific set of sustainable guidelines that need to be adhered to; for example, being able to bring your own water vessels, or supplying reusable water bottles etc.
We are noticing a change within the festival environment – sustainability is becoming key in the thought processes behind staging an event that has large impacts on the economy and the environment.
We also need to consider the changing expectations of audiences and ensure that we as an industry, whose responsibility is to cater to the needs of consumers, are meeting these.
In the last four to five years of We are the Fair, we have been noticing a significant change in the expectations of consumers, who are now increasingly looking towards the wellbeing of the planet. Audiences are thinking more consciously, opting to ride bikes to the festival as opposed to driving, and it’s really important that we are engaging and meeting these expectations – we now provide bike parks and extra security to monitor them. Similarly, consumer consciousness means they are buying more carefully, which is why it’s important to try to promote a greener business.
Whilst audiences today want their brands/events to be conscientious towards their CSR and are excited about the prospects of sustainability, they are also a generation of instant gratification. They want immediate results. If something hinders or slows this down, they aren’t interested and this is an important thought that also needs to be considered in the process of making an event/festival greener. Yes, it’s important that we are contributing to a better planet, and we should do as much as we can to support this. However, we are part of an experience economy and we have to be asking whether certain sustainability actions are impeding the experience of the event.
One of the greatest opportunities as festival organisers in mitigating climate change is to use our voice/platform to communicate with audiences, highlighting issues, leading by example and both inspiring and normalising ideas about sustainability. What’s holding us back? Fear of increased costs, lack of resources, lack of expertise in sustainable approaches.
Events may not always be able to be truly sustainable, but we as event organisers should always strive to ensure we are doing our part in making the world a better place. Showing that you care is extremely important. We must be thinking consciously, not just for profitability and to meet consumer expectations, but because in order to thrive in a busy industry, we need to stand out as an advocate for positivity.
To read the full ‘Good Event Guide’, please click here.