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“Sustainability has arrived”

Lisa Mitnick
13 Sep 2022

Product managers are critical to leading the pivot to sustainable products

That’s arguably the greatest quote to sum up where we, as business leaders and innovators, are in the fight to create sustainable products and services.

It’s from Drew Carlson, senior industrial designer at Hamilton Beach, who was discussing the company’s sustainability efforts as part of the Leaders in Innovation podcast series, a partnership we have with Products That Count.

Those efforts range from reduced packaging to recycling appliances. The company looked at every element that goes into sourcing materials and building products – across a variety of products from refrigerators to knives. Hamilton Beach worked with Synapse Product Development, a Capgemini Invent business, to complete a Life Cycle Assessment to quantify the environmental impact of the design across the system or product life cycle.

Martine Stillman is vice president of engineering at Synapse, and has counseled clients across multiple industries on creating sustainable products and services. Stillman argues, “Sustainability in product development is no longer optional; it is a business essential. All companies, including digital companies, have an environmental footprint that must be addressed and decreased. The challenge for all of us is finding the best ways to convert good intentions into positive environmental results.”

There is really no argument left to defend or hide behind when it comes to the future of product development. Numerous studies have shown that customers want to do business with companies that share their sustainability values. Businesses beware! Defy Gen Z buying power at your own risk. A recent study from First Insight shows that Gen Z consumers have outsized influence on not only their Gen X parents but even their Boomer grandparents when it comes to sustainable shopping.

In fact, consumers across all generations – from Baby Boomers to Gen Z – are now willing to spend more for sustainable products. Today, nearly 90 percent of Gen X consumers said that they would be willing to spend an extra 10 percent or more for sustainable products, compared to just over 34 percent two years ago.

It’s an idea Carlson and Stillman discussed on the podcast, with Carlson emphasizing the need to be in tune with Hamilton Beach’s customers and the things those customers value. “Sustainability is really going to impact us,” he said.

Product managers are critical to leading the pivot to sustainable products, creating achievable strategies, championing environmentally friendly decision-making, and building literal and figurative paths to expanded customer bases and new revenue streams. Products that are more environmentally friendly are often also more functional, easier to navigate, and accessible across more connections, devices, and abilities.

By pursuing sustainability, we discover potential features and experiences that help users better manage their own digital world and live according to their values.

There are a number of resources available to product managers, including:

Listen to the full podcast here.

Learn more about Capgemini Intelligent Products & Services.

Meet the author

Lisa Mitnick

Executive Vice President, Capgemini InventGroup Offer Leader, Intelligent Products & Services
A hands-on digital leader and entrepreneur, Lisa Mitnick has more than 20 years’ experience delivering business success with deep knowledge in strategy, product management, cutting-edge technology services and business development. With industry expertise in communications, media, technology, health and government/public sector, she has harnessed the power of technology to transform services and improve client and customer experiences.