Demand Generation Alliance


A collaborative initiative towards more sustainable and nutritious foods.

Today, dietary risks underpin critical health problems such as stunting, wasting and chronic hunger, as well as non-communicable conditions such as overweight and obesity, and diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer. Food production contributes over 25% of greenhouse gas emissions and affects ecosystems through unsustainable land use practices.

Consumers and citizens actions in the market place shape our food systems, and yet the bulk of actions for food system transformation has traditionally concentrated on supply-side measures.

In summer of 2020, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development FReSH Project (WBCSD), and the Global Business School Network (GBSN) developed the Demand Generation Alliance (DGA), a cross-sectoral initiative to shift societal preferences towards more sustainable and nutritious foods.  The DGA was formed after the organizations noticed that they could emphasize the importance of consumer demand for food system change.

Efforts to change consumer choices are critically important but are unlikely to be enough to shift consumer demand. The DGA believes that changing consumers’ underlying preferences is a critical lever to shift demand to nutritious and sustainable foods. This initiative will support multi-stakeholder, cross-sector collaborations to influence consumer preferences for nutritious and sustainable foods by deploying social and cultural changes.  Stakeholders will not only include consumers, but academics, private companies, public organizations, and event governments.


The Demand Generation Alliance(DGA) has been established with a single vision: Nutritious and sustainable food, the preferred consumer choice.

Our mission is to drive societal preferences towards nutritious and sustainable food by leveraging social and cultural strategies.

Why social and cultural strategies?

Society and culture underpin and greatly shape consumer food choices: they set up lifelong preferences and habits, which are often hard to break, and they influence what is acceptable and appropriate.Social strategies can address the impact of social factors on food preferences, such as dinning experiences, social norms, peer networks, social status and social identities. Cultural strategies address moral aspects, values, symbols, narratives, and technologies and their impact on our food habits, cooking practices, and cuisine. Social and cultural strategies are deployed at society level.

Global Priority Actions to drive consumer demandHow Social and Cultural strategies can support
To support consumer education, awareness and inform choice:

– Labelling
– Food based dietary guidelines(FBDG)
Today the ‘informed choice’ paradigm dominates the consumer education sector. Food-based dietary guidelines(FBDG) are a tool for consumer education. To influence purchases, labelling initiatives are used to sign-post to the consumer what is in their food or how it has been produced. To support consumer choice efforts, one must tap into a broader collective organized around values.

Food cultures(also known as food movements), such as the Slow food or Organic food movements, are ways to organize that collective, because they are characterized by values for how one grows, buys, prepares and consumes food. Food cultures can give labels or FBDG new meanings, a symbol of a way of life and something one stands for.
To improve purchasing power or provide income support:
– Cash transfer programmes
– Food banks, food vouchers
Foods can express social status. In many countries, some nutritious and sustainable foods (legumes, some types of vegetables, nuts, and insects) are not usually aspirational and are ‘left behind’ as incomes rise. A cultural strategy might use media to create new symbols and narratives in film, tv, and award shows. A social strategy might drive new social expectations (norms)from those with social status (celebrities, upper class). Together, these strategies would aim to change the desirability and the buying and eating of ‘low-status’ foods.
To address the food environment:
– Nudges
– Product marketing
Marketing at point of sale is influenced largely by consumer perceptions and consumer attention. Current perception challenges include ‘nutritious/healthy is not tasty ’or ‘eating vegan/vegetarian is boring’. Several cultural and social strategies could address these misperceptions, such as:

– Celebrating traditional cuisines or developing new ones (e.g., Nordic Diet). These are often led by Chefs in use of traditional or new cuisine and the restaurant (eating-out) experience
– Consumption vocabularies to evoke taste/pleasure
– Media strategy showing the eating experience is as enjoyable in film, tv shows, adverts-Social norm interventions to change youths’ perceptions and social expectations about what enjoyable eating experiences ought to be(e.g., the coolness of eating vegetables). Youth make memories and associations with these foods, and as such are likely to be more attentive to nudges and product marketing in the food environment.
Table 1. Examples of Social and Cultural strategies that would strengthen actions in economic, consumer education domain of the enabling environment as well as actions in the food environment


The DGA has an ambitious 3-pillar model to deliver on its mission.


Build Knowledge

Our actions are based on evidence, drawing from multiple disciplines, and ensuring that the work we do is strong.

  • Integrate evidence and knowledge to support decision making and build awareness on social and cultural action
  • Generate hypotheses about what works to catalyse additional research and test these
  • In collaboration with coalitions and action groups, disseminate learnings to support translation into practice via tools


Strengthen Coalitions

Effective coalitions emerge from a shared understanding of the issues, trust amongst partners across sectors and coordination of efforts.

  • Convene and support dialogues and round tables in countries and regions
  • Illustrate connections across sectors and create opportunities for cross-sector work
  • Facilitate shared learning to spur collaborative action at scale


Enable Action

The nature of our ambition means that stakeholders in countries need to be able to work together on different subjects. Ensuring we have multiple perspectives and strengths informing our actions is critical. Building on the work of our coalitions, we will support

  • The creation of issue-based action groups in countries and help them to generate proof of concepts
  • The application of tools to address consumer preferences via social and cultural strategies
  • Action groups to generate evidence and learnings

Governance and Membership

The leadership and membership of the DGA are open to all who share its objectives and adhere to its governance principles.

The DGA LeadGroup provides strategic support and in-kind contribution to deliver the DGA’s purpose and mission. This group consists of individuals from seven organizations in civil society(3), academia(2)and business alliances (2).


DGA membership will open in 2022 to institutions or organizations at global, regional or country level that seek to address topics that aligns with its mission. Members must adhere to UN Global Compact principles.

DGA membership includes categories of stakeholders critical to enabling demand, such as institutions or organizations at global, regional or country level that seek to address topics that align with the mission of the DGA. These coalitions may seek to be embedded or collaborate with other organizations or coalitions active in the other domains of the enabling environment to enhance the impact of their actions.