NMBU-student advises Orkla on sustainability

Orkla, a leading Norwegian supplier of branded consumer goods, has teamed up with The Innovation Effect (TIE), a young company that connects students to companies with innovative projects, and the Skills2Grow innovation project. The project has been named «Young Sustainable Influence».

«Orkla came to The Innovation Effect (TIE) because they had a challenge: How can Orkla become more attractive for the new generation of consumers through sustainability?

«TIE and Orkla hired four students to conduct research and solve this problem. We each come from diverse and different academic and real-world experience backgrounds. My so called area of expertise was "sustainability" while others had specialised in business development or innovation,» explained Lauren Guido, a bachelor degree student in International Environment and Development Studies at Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU).

Recently, the four students presented their preliminary findings in front of 200 business leaders at Oslo Innovation Week. The Guardian described the presentation and project in an article on how a new generation of young Norwegians are more environmentally conscious than ever.

Guido told The Guardian that working inside an organisation, while remaining independent, puts you in a powerful position. "A lot of people think of big companies as the bad guys." But working with business can make change happen, she adds. "We can be the bridge between them and the public."

She explains her thoughts and experiences related to this more in detail in a blog post on the Noragric blog.

«Sustainability is high on the agenda at Orkla, and through this insight project we hope to gain new perspectives and ideas from dedicated students who are interested in this topic,» Arve Heltne, SVP Orkla Marketing & Innovation explained in an article on Orkla’s website.

According to the same article, the project, which will run for eight weeks, aims at mapping what students, entrepreneurs and various start-up companies think about Orkla’s future scenario, “Young Sustainability Impact”, and coming up with suggestions for solutions based on this insight.

«Partnering with ‘the new generation’ is intended to enable Orkla to innovate more accurately and quickly in new channels and markets, precisely with a view to reaching this younger target group more effectively than we are doing at present,» said Monica Skog Ravn, Nordic Marketing Director at Orkla Home and Personal Care.

During Oslo Innovation Week the student team presented its preliminary recommendations to Orkla, but stressed that the research is not finished.

So far the students have conducted a qualitative survey with more than 315 respondents and interviewed 20 students, some of them from NMBU, and 10 start-up companies. But the students are planning several more interviews before they finalize the project. A few key points from their recommendations:

Key learnings from consumers (the target audience is under 30 years old):

1: Orkla has to step up and listen to the consumers

2: “Big firms do not have the ability to be as sustainable as start-ups.”

3: “Big companies need to stop greenwashing and start being transparent.”

4: “Our generation can not afford to live a fully sustainable lifestyle.”

Sum up key learnings:

  1. Less plastic
  2. Less food waste
  3. Less greenwashing
  4. More affordable

Checklist to Orkla

  • Listen to your customers
  • Say where the food is from
  • Use new technology + sustainable packaging
  • Talk to your potential power couples
Published 14. November 2016 - 16:08 - Updated 23. May 2017 - 19:10