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Consumer Trends 2024: Decoding horizon scanning programs - ESG navigation in the Consumer sector

23 January 2024
In 2024 and beyond, businesses will need to leverage horizon scanning programs as the backbone for proactive compliance. Fostering innovation and ethical strategies can allow to navigate sustainability regulations, while securing a competitive edge.

In the fast-paced Consumer sector, staying ahead requires more than just keeping up with trends—it necessitates a proactive approach to understanding and adapting the business to the multitude of various regulatory changes. Unsurprisingly, most General Counsels, we have spoken to, have had horizon scanning near the top of their list of concerns.

Within the broader context of regulatory horizon scanning, sustainability has emerged as a defining factor. With global movements towards eco-consciousness and ethical consumerism, businesses are under increasing pressure to align with sustainable practices. Over the last couple of years, there has been increasing rigour in the evolution of ESG legislation across multiple jurisdictions and new industry standards tackling specific issues across business sectors. Developments in ESG regulations tend to be introduced in a phased manner, whereas certain revisions to guidelines and/or changes to directives can have an immediate impact. These developments challenge internal legal and sustainability teams in effectively identifying (and interpreting) the technical and strategic impact. Subsequently, this have effect on mitigation of adverse effects within operations and throughout value chains. Therefore, in-house teams also need to stay up to date and see what's coming next.

Enter regulatory horizon scanning, a crucial component that actively monitors regulatory shifts and anticipates upcoming changes through tracking of global trends. Business that efficiently implement horizon scanning as part of their compliance programs are able to swiftly review, mobilise and prioritise responses through effective policies and stakeholder engagement.

Sustainability Horizon Scanning: a focal point

DWF has been supporting businesses with Horizon Scanning programs by utilising our collaborative approach of AI technology and deep domain expertise. Incorporating sustainability into horizon scanning involves a specialised approach:

  • Regulatory Landscape Analysis: evaluating current and anticipated regulations pertaining to sustainability, such as carbon emissions standards, plastic usage restrictions, product safety change, EU green deals or fair labour practices, is essential. Understanding these regulations helps anticipate shifts and align business strategies accordingly.
  • Impact Assessment: sustainability-related regulations can significantly impact supply chains, production methods, and consumer preferences. Assessing the potential impact across all operations is crucial for proactive risk management and adaptation.
  • Innovation Integration: horizon scanning can also aid in monitoring technological advancements and innovations in sustainable practices. This includes developments in renewable energy, circular economy models and eco-friendly materials.

Key Components of DWF's Horizon Scanning Program

DWF's solutions meticulously scan over 5000 websites daily, across various jurisdictions and sectors, including Data Privacy Regulations, ESG, Financial Regulations, International Tax & Budgets, Employment Law and Credit Reporting. Our process-driven approach, underpinned by robust SLAs and KPIs, is tailored to provide a customised program for clients. At the core of an effective horizon scanning program lie several critical components, each playing a pivotal role in ensuring comprehensive coverage and actionable insights.

  1. Understanding the Client Scope: we begin by gaining an in-depth understanding of the businesses specific needs and the jurisdictions they operate in, ensuring the program is perfectly tailored to meet unique client requirements. Our team of specialists collaborates closely with the client to understand the most pertinent issues impacting their businesses - we outline the topics, jurisdictions, keywords and client-specified priorities.
  2. Knowledge Transfer: the foundation of any successful program is the seamless transfer of knowledge. It involves gathering information from diverse sources, including government publications, industry reports and expert insights, and distilling this into a coherent database.
  3. Style Guide: a bespoke style guide to dictate the structure and framework of updates, ensuring consistency and clarity of the information delivered to our clients.
  4. Web Scraping and Update Identification: automation is key in horizon scanning. Web crawlers sift through vast amounts of data across online platforms, efficiently gathering information on legislative updates, industry news and emerging trends, thus ensuring a comprehensive scope of analysis. The advanced web scraping tool meticulously analyses each URL for updates, using pre-defined keywords to highlight significant changes for efficient reference. It sifts through the information to identify trends, sentiments and regulatory shifts that bear significance for the industry.
  5. Relevancy Determination via Machine Language: our customised BOT rigorously scans the updated websites, filtering updates that match the client's defined scope. This precision ensures that only the most relevant updates are processed further.
  6. Gen AI Summary Creation: generation of AI-powered summaries condenses extensive information into concise and digestible insights. While automation streamlines the process, human expertise is indispensable. Our domain expert teams reviews the gathered data, ensuring accuracy, relevance, depth of analysis and comprehensiveness. These summaries provide a quick overview for stakeholders, highlighting key points and potential implications.
  7. Final Publication and Delivery: the culmination of these efforts results in the delivery of actionable insights in a timely manner. These insights are packaged into reports tailored for different stakeholders, enabling informed decision-making within organisations.

The Role of Sustainability in Business Strategy

Sustainability is no longer a mere checkbox on a corporate social responsibility list — it’s a fundamental aspect shaping business strategies. In conclusion, regulatory horizon scanning in the Consumer sector has evolved beyond mere compliance tracking — it’s now a strategic imperative. By integrating sustainability into horizon scanning programs, companies gain a competitive edge, foster innovation, enhance brand reputation, capitalise on emerging opportunities and future-proof their operations.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss any of these topics and what they mean for you and your business, please get in touch with our Legal Operations experts. 

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