This year marks a new era of sustainability for retail and ecommerce. The COVID-19 pandemic drove a massive shift in almost everything digital marketing, and while 2020 will always remain an anomaly, this new consumer-centric online environment is here to stay.
Since 2020, retailers everywhere have experienced too many unexpected shifts to count. So, these brands are embracing new opportunities to cater to consumer demands like sustainability that have been gaining serious market momentum since.
Sustainable, purpose-driven brands take center stage in today’s retail industry
There’s no denying it — being green has never been more in fashion. In fact, a Stifel and Morning Consult survey conducted in May found that 71% of US adults care more about product sustainability than they did one year ago.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that this term can mean different things to different people. While recycled textiles, reusable packaging, and more eco-friendly delivery options all are prime examples of sustainability in action, many retail brands are focusing their green initiatives on:
- Reusable and sustainably sourced materials. One of the most widespread initiatives is the drive to use more environmentally responsible materials and manufacturing processes.
- Carbon footprint reduction. Retailers and their partners are working hard to reduce emissions across the value chain — from production, to fulfillment, to store operations.
- Reusable containers. Single-use packaging hurts the environment in two ways: it takes a lot of energy and raw materials to create, and also accounts for a disproportionate amount of landfill waste around the world due to not being biodegradable.
- Recyclable packaging. Manufacturers and retailers are prioritizing materials that can be easily recycled to not only benefit the environment and satisfy customers, but to cut future raw materials costs as well.
- Green business certification. Some brands are finding value in taking their commitment to carbon footprint reduction one step further. By obtaining a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) store certification, you communicate to your employees and customers that building business practices that don’t harm the environment is a priority.
- Donations to environmental causes. Don’t just talk the talk — walk the walk by weaving your brand’s mission into a higher, eco-friendly calling and making donations to charities and non-profit organizations your customers trust.
While consumer attitudes pushing for more sustainable products are stronger among millennials and Gen Z customers, even 52% of baby boomers agree that retailers should be more environmentally responsible in their business practices. Even if this push doesn’t result in revenue growth and desirable consumer behaviors right away, it’s clear that sustainability will remain a key focus area for your customers going forward.