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PDI or purpose driven innovation is Trendwatching’s approach to identifying and help clients act on ‘meaningful’ business opportunities. I think its interesting as it captures the aspirations of corporate responsibility professionals in businesses; a case in point being the steady changes that Unilever have made in their business over the past decade or so, like their concentrated aerosol can design.

PDI factors

In their own words:

Make a difference through innovation

Turn overwhelm into opportunity

Move from anticipating and meeting customer expectations to setting them

The principles that it holds itself to are:

Don’t extract from the earth

Don’t produce harmful substances

Don’t degrade nature

Don’t overwork people (wellbeing)

Everyone’s voice matters (inclusivity)

Help people to self-develop (empowerment)

Don’t discriminate (fairness/justice)

Celebrate diversity

While Unilever’s concentrated aerosol can initiative leaves a lighter footprint on the earth, it would still fail on some of Trendwatching’s purpose driven innovation principles. In particular degradation of nature and extracting from the earth, due to its use of aluminium and butane gas propellant.

The sweet spot for any idea that fits in with their principles is at the intersection of: drivers of change, innovation and consumer basic needs – like most other successful trend driven ideas. At a macro level this net out to accelerating societal and cultural trends that are moving from the edge to the mainstream, behaviour change and both demand and supply-side economics.

PDI approach examples

Patagonia’s ReCrafted range is the kind of project that Trendwatching would hope to get out of PDI.

Patagonia ReCrafted – a classic example of the kind of project PDI should generate

More design related content here.

More information

Unilever shakes up the aerosol world | Packaging World and Unilever’s compressed aerosols cut carbon footprint by 25% per can | The Guardian on Unilever’s concentrated aerosol can design.

Patagonia Launches ReCrafted, a New Collection of Upcycled Gear | Make Fashion Better – Patagonia’s up cycled clothing range

More on the Trendwatching approach here.