Marks & Spencer, Google and other companies have joined the global movement Collectively to help create a sustainable retail future.

Marks & Spencer was proud to join a new global movement called Collectively that was  launched last week to engage millennial consumers (18 to 30-year-olds) around the world in a new approach to consumption.

Collectively was born out of conversations at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2013.

World business leaders have to find a better way of satisfying the consumption needs of a growing global population, one that is predicted to reach nine billion (from today’s seven billion) by 2050 and perhaps 11 billion by 2100.

A growing population and burgeoning consumption is an exciting growth opportunity for the consumer goods market but there literally are not enough fish in the sea – or wood in the forests, soil on the land or water in the river – for everyone to live as we do in the developed world.

So how do we square the circle? How do we ensure that consumers in developing markets in India, China and Africa can have what we take for granted, grow the economy and our companies, but in a way that is compatible with the limits of the planet?

It won’t happen by chance. In 2007 M&S launched its 100 point sustainability plan, Plan A in recognition of this challenge.

We’ve made good progress in the last seven years but we’re very clear that we cannot act alone. A new, better economy is a collective responsibility of all companies.

So we were delighted to join four major brands – Unilever, BT, Coca-Cola and Carlsberg – in Davos 20 months ago to say we’d try and solve the challenge. That initial conversation has led to a new coalition forming.

Joining the initial five are companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Audi and Pepsi.

We’re now collectively called Collectively. We’re focusing our efforts on engaging young consumers first.

We’re not being defeatist in aiming for consumers aged 18 to 30, just realistic that this is the set of consumers that can have the biggest impact.

For me though the great innovation of Collectively is not the coalition of organisations that it has brought together but rather the way in which it is tackling the challenge.

Collectively is not going to focus solely on the environmental and social consequences of consumption.

Instead Collectively will focus on things that millennials feel passionate about – great food, fashion, design, architecture and technology that are also better for people and planet.

Fun things, aspirational things, things that can go viral. Collectively will showcase all that’s great about the future, showing we can have a good lifestyle that’s in harmony with the needs of nature and communities.

It will show the human faces behind positive change, the innovations that are emerging and make the connections so we all feel that ‘we’re in this together’.

  • Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne is executive director, marketing and international, Marks & Spencer
  • This article is taken from M&S’s blog page