Lifestyle representations and the ecological transition


The ZEN 2050 study by EpE member companies concluded that France could achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, provided all stakeholders (corporate, government, citizen-consumers, etc.) rallied strongly to achieve an unprecedented transformation of our lifestyles and consumption patterns. The equally important goal of preserving biodiversity further reinforces the need for transformation.

Every person pursues or adopts a lifestyle of their own, influenced by the context in which they evolve. Commercial messages carry representations through and beyond the promotion of goods and services. Businesses, especially advertisers and the advertising sector as a whole, therefore have a key role to play in what could be a revolution of the collective mindset. Several EpE members have already committed themselves to this path and their practices provide material for this guide.

Acting on those representations is one of the ways to achieve the ecological transformation of our society and economy. The energy and creative talent of the entire sector (brands, agencies and media), brought to bear on the representation and promotion of a new environmentally-friendly consumer society and new ethical standards, could well play a leading role in the transition of our lifestyles, based on three approaches:

  • identification of the positive and negative impacts on the environment of the lifestyles projected by commercial messages;
  • promotion of lifestyles conducive to the ecological transition in order to make them desirable;
  • avoidance of representations which mainstream lifestyles not conducive to the ecological transition.

This guide is organised around the following principles:

  • highlighting 10 stereotypes that are sometimes present in advertising, rooted in our unconscious, sometimes beneficial, sometimes harmful to the planet, in order to contribute to the evolution of our habits and the emergence of new lifestyles;
  • these representations reflect common issues and so rely on existing referentials: food, transport, housing, travel, entertainment, ideas of happiness and success in life, relation to time and to nature. The issues fall under the main environmental impact sectors (greenhouse gases, biodiversity);
  • the guide sets forth proposals to make sustainable behaviours and lifestyles desirable, and illustrates them with best practices.


Front-cover-BCG-EPE-Building a sustainable recovery

Building a sustainable recovery

Ecological transition and resilience:
keys to the post-covid-19 economic recovery

This study is the product of nearly 40 interviews with leaders of major French companies (CEOs, heads of the sustainable development, strategic management, corporate affairs, and operations departments, etc.).

It was carried out by BCG’s Paris office in partnership with the Association Française des Entreprises pour l’Environnement (EpE). Designed right at the start of lockdown, and thus at the start of the partial economic shut-down, the study aims to analyse the impact of the crisis on corporate operations from an environmental perspective, so as to identify the practices put in place and anticipate the effects of economic recovery plans.

Before the crisis, corporate strategies were undergoing transformation to address environmental challenges. To the need for this transformation is now added a new pressing need to build resilience in the face of Covid-19 and similar events that will follow in its wake.

How do we keep up the environmental momentum and take the long view in a tense and uncertain short-term economic context? How do we stay the course on ecological transition while adding the need for resilience? These are the questions BCG has sought to explore with EpE and major French companies.