(This article originally appeared on Sustainable Brands)

I live as the sole injection of estrogen in a house full of testosterone with my husband and two young boys, aged nine and six. But suddenly I am swimming in estrogen. Coming off the back of two different client projects both of which involved global brands targeting women — one in beauty and the other in food — I’m awash in gender comparison data on what people care about today and how this aligns — or doesn’t — with their brand interactions, lifestyle choices and purchase decisions.

I’ve just digested John Gerzema’s latest book, The Athena Doctrine: How Women and Men Who Think Like Them Will Rule the Future* and Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, both of which are garnering sales and conversation. There’s a growing buzz about the attitude, engagement and positive impact of women in the marketplace and in society at large. But is the girl effect real?

The answer is yes. My consultancy’s research tool The SHIFT Report™ has recently launched a report called The New Variablesthat reveals a significant difference in how women and men rate CSR and sustainable life issues. Women are driving The New Variables that are defining success and driving lifestyle choices, purchase decisions and brand relationships — integrity, authenticity, community, connection, consciousness, social responsibility or, as The Athena Doctrine describes, the characteristics and traits that are typically identified as feminine.

After surveying 64,000 people

By Kierstin De West (This blog originally appeared on Sustainable Brands)

The topic of happiness is exploding, with growing conversations locally and globally on happiness as a goal, a brand-positioning opportunity, and a metric of success in marketing, political and cultural arenas over the past two years. Brand and marketing leaders are obviously paying attention as there’s been a steady increase in brands’ positioning around, and promises to deliver, happiness to their consumers and the culture in which their business operates.

“Happiness” is an important and potentially game-changing opportunity in which brand and marketing leadership can — and should — engage, strategize and execute, but there are several key steps to ensure any human and financial marketing resources invested show a return.

Instead of brand and marketing executives jumping on the happiness bandwagon due to its current popularity, we need to understand what customer experiences and concerns lead to happiness while looking at quantified metrics that reveal where this insight authentically aligns with the brand and brand experience. The movement around happiness is not a trend and shouldn’t be viewed as such. It is instead an indicator of the cultural shift to sustainability andThe New Variables™ that characterize this shift. The New Variables guiding people’s lifestyle choices, brand relationships and purchase decisions are: authenticity, integrity, community, connection, consciousness and social responsibility.

What do happier people care about?

The people who are happier with their lives overall care most about sustainability and CSR issues than those who do not, according to The SHIFT Report’s 2012-2013

As Ci approaches its tenth year in business, we are thrilled to launch our new site.

We’ve been tracking and monitoring the cultural shift to sustainability for nearly a decade and in celebration of our birthday we are happy to launch a new SHIFT Report Featured Insights section where you can download free research and insights.

Visit our home page to access these free reports. The first one to launch is Consumers and Local.

My new column for Greenbiz which will feature exclusive SHIFT Report data, launched this week with cool infographics on political affiliation and sustainability. Here is the article:

I was recently at lunch with two friends, one of whom brought her husband. After the couple departed, I found myself apologizing to my other friend for the husband’s rude behavior, the mildest part of which included leering gestures at the waitress and comments that don’t need to be repeated.

“Don’t worry about it,” he responded. “I always try to focus on the points of alignment with someone. There’s always something. And once I found them, it was an interesting conversation where we were both engaged.”

Alignment is crucial.

As businesses seek to define and tell their sustainability story in the landscape of shifting consumer values — which they must do in order to be culturally relevant — there has been significant focus on environmental issues where there is less likely to be alignment and which aren’t necessarily the most important to some people.

Sustainability (a word so overused, misused and abused that I’ve started calling it the S-Word) is about the issues that lie underneath it. These are a collection of issues that include but go beyond green and include personal, social and spiritual sustainability issues.

This was uncovered both qualitatively and quantitatively in our market intelligence tool,

Inspired by The Visual Miscellaneum’s Left vs. Right Political Spectrum, we thought we’d take a dive into The SHIFT Report and see the impact of political affiliation on connection with sustainability issues and motivation. It is interesting to look at the issues where the parties diverge (environmental), where the more right wing views push ahead (spiritual) and where they are quite close together (social + personal).

The SHIFT Report: Impact of Political Affiliation (USA) on Connection with Sustainability Issues and Motivation (n=5000 general population) The SHIFT Report: Impact of Political Affiliation (USA) on  Connection with Sustainability Issues and Motivation (n=5000 general population)

The SHIFT Report: Impact of Political Affiliation (Canada) on Connection with Sustainability Issues and Motivation (n=5000 general population) The SHIFT Report: Impact of Political Affiliation (Canada) on  Connection with Sustainability Issues and Motivation (n=5000 general population)

Design for durability, or heirloom design as it is sometimes called, is gaining traction is the world of industrial design, slowly but surely. It is a noble sustainable design strategy and it always makes me think of the lyrics to Buck 65’s song Craftsmenship.

It ain’t about the dollar or trying to go fast
Unless you take pride in what you’re doing, it won’t last
Craftsmanship is a quality that some lack
You got to give people a reason for them to come back

The world’s a different place than what I was introduced to
They don’t wear shineable shoes like they used to
Casual clothes in the office, what is this
The villain in sneakers is killing my business.

There have been a few products / projects that have come across my radar recently which fall into this arena though at different access points – Yves Behar’s Aesir cellphone ($8500), Samual Davies’ Repairware (concept) and recently my good friend purchased a new pair of beautiful 1000 mile Wolverine boots ($400).

Almost always buying the product that was built to last will be an upfront investment, requiring long term thinking over instant gratification. This is not always easy. In fact it’s almost never easy! But as we see in The SHIFT Report research, products that are designed to last rank highest among product design characteristics. Of the 60% of North Americans who say product design and lifecycle is an important sustainability sign post, 82% rank durability as important over

The importance of courage and asking the right questions: Meet Darcy Winslow who represents both.


Darcy Winslow

I’m thrilled to launch the latest Sustainable Innovators interview in the Experts Behind the Experts Series with Sustainable Life Media. In this latest interview, you’ll get inspired by Darcy Winslow – Founder,  Designs for a Sustainable World Collective as well as Executive in Residence at MIT. She is a proponent of Systems Thinking as the tool for the future, and actively involved with the Society for Organizational Learning founded by Peter Senge.

Like all of our EbE, Darcy Winslow is a passionate pioneer in the intersection of sustainability + business, with a track record in leveraging sustainability as a tool for innovation. For many years this came via her leadership role at Nike, Inc during her 20 year tenure at Nike during which she held several senior management positions within the business. She has been an active practitioner of sustainability frameworks and principles, exploring and experimenting with the application of these to all aspects of business.

An executive, a thought leader, an educator and an athlete who is committed 100% to sustainability, press play and listen to Darcy as she shares her thoughts on sustainability, success and innovation and where courage,  collaboration and goal setting fit into an equation that will support the cultural shift to sustainability.

Web:  dswcollective.com | Twitter: @DSWCollective

Thirsty for more? Listen to the

Jack Myers is right – TED is the role model for media companies of the future. As someone who doesn’t own a television but spends a fair amount of time online, I was curious to learn more about Chris Anderson’s (curator of the TED conference) point of view on one of TED’s new tentacles: Ads Worth Spreading. Anderson explains how advertising is failing, that attention is the great scarce resource and its value has to be rising. He says that quantity of attention (eyeball hours / clicks / demographics) is not necessarily the right metric by which to measure success, but that it is intensity we should be interested in – that focused high attention, leaning forward not slouching backward. Introduced as a competition, the winners were announced earlier this week. I’ve watched three so far (Savory Institute, The Topsy Foundation, and Girl Effect) and what strikes me is how these short spots so elegantly exude a combination of compassion, education and solution. It’s the power of a good creative brief, in this case: media built on passion. As Chris Anderson says: “passion is a proxy for potential’. I love that.

Of course any time I see the word passion, especially in the context of media and communications, I think of The SHIFT Report’s Sustainability Passion Index. If passion is a proxy for potential and The SHIFT Report research is designed to gauge the North American populations’ passion levels surrounding sustainability issues –

Meditation and Social Change: Are people who meditate the top social change agents? Continue reading

Dawn Danby – Sustainable Design Program Manager at Autodesk
An Industrial Designer merged with a Sustainability Consultant merged with an MBA: Meet Dawn Danby.


Another down to earth thought leader as part of our EbE Sustainable Innovators interview series, Dawn Danby explores the intersection of design, sustainability and business. Which is a fancy way of saying that she wants the things we make to benefit both people and the world.

In this interview Dawn shares the benefits of a diverse background, the upside of making mistakes and the importance for designers to look at the social sustainability context in which their environmental sustainability initiatives lives. An early game changer to the sustainability space, Dawn remans excited by the possibilities that design presents.

An industrial designer by training, she’s a boundary-spanner and synthesist who has acted as a cross-disciplinary designer, strategist, art director, project manager, producer and artist. She currently manages Autodesk’s Sustainable Design Program, integrating sustainable thinking into the digital tools used by 9 million designers and engineers worldwide.

Through Autodesk’s Education Program – Sustainability Workshop – Dawn is now connecting withstudents putting tools for change – and a dose of inspiration –  in their hands.

Dawn holds a design degree from the Rhode Island School of Design (2000), and an MBA in