Sustainability has been a huge topic in retail for more than five years now. But the trend keeps on evolving, a reality Catherine Seeds explores in her latest video. Listen to her thoughts in our latest video, or read the transcript below to learn more!
Catherine Seeds presents: retail sustainability
Hi y’all! I’m Catherine Seeds, president of Ketner Group, coming live to you from beautiful Austin, Texas!
If you’ve been listening in to my KG ABs (audio blogs) I appreciate you coming back for another go-round.
Sustainability is what the people want
Today, we are going to dive into something very hot right now in retail – sustainability. For anyone listening who thinks this is just a fad, let me back up this statement with some truth bombs.
According to a recent survey by Capgemini, almost 80% of retailers believe that their sustainability work increases customer loyalty. Couple this stat with insights from a recent Sensormatic consumer survey that indicate that American consumers consider sustainability when making at least some purchases, and the sustainability trend becomes even more evident.
In that same survey, research shows that 80% of nearly half of those surveyed believe the responsibility to be more sustainable falls on retail organizations. What’s more, 70% said they would change their shopping habits if they discovered that a store or brand was not operating sustainable.
Think of that for a minute!
Now more than ever, a significant number of shoppers are taking a “stand” by showing their support at the checkout for more sustainable retail practices.
Consumers, young and old, continue to be conscious of how their lifestyle and shopping habits can affect Mother Earth, and they are putting their money where their mouths are to ensure that retailers are also stepping up to the plate when it comes to sustainable practices.
As with anything, if you want to make big changes happen, you must often take baby steps. Here are a few examples of what some retailers are currently doing to galvanize their own sustainability practices.
B Corporations for the win
For retailers who looking to get the jump on becoming “official” when it comes to sustainability, B Corp status is the way to go. Organizations who are designated B Corp, “are leaders in the global movement for an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy.”
According to the B Corp website, B Lab assessment measures a company’s entire social and environmental impact.
Examples of B Corp Certified retailers include Toms Shoes, The Body Shop and Allbirds. These and over 4000 retailers in over 70 countries are, as our friends at Business Insider describe, helping drive a global movement that uses businesses as a force for good.
What’s old is new again in fashion
As I discussed with my 17-year old Gen Z daughter a few months ago, thrifting is all the rage, and it is only gaining in popularity. According to my cost conscience youngling, thrifting allows her to double down on her own unique style at a lower cost.
According to BYU professor Michelle Hyde, “I believe thrifting is a huge trend that will continue to grow, particularly pushed by the younger generations that are environmentally conscious. Never have young adults been so in-tune and so environmentally aware of the negative impact of conspicuous consumption.”
Online marketplaces for resale luxury goods, as Ketner Group’s Jeff Ketner talked about in a recent blog, are also doing their part to drive the circular economy.
Saving the Earth one store at a time
Although the business and popularity of digital commerce continues to grow, shoppers like me are creatures of habit and still enjoy doing business in person, in a good old-fashioned store. The store will always be the gathering place in modern society, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need an Earth-friendly facelift.
Sustainable US women’s fashion brand, Reformation, has implemented several strategies to save energy, improve water efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions in their stores. This includes incorporating materials like LED fixtures, rammed earth, and recycled fabric insulation in its buildings, and offsetting its construction footprint and electricity usage.
Not to be outdone, fashion designer Stella McCartney’s flagship store in London has sustainable sourced furnishings, biodegradable mannequins and an air conditioning system that cleans the air using nano-carbon technology.
If sustainability were easy, everyone would do it
Sustainability is top of mind for retail CEOs, which is certainly a good thing.
At this year’s NRF Big Show, the big guns at several of the top retailers made this topic front at center. From Walmart’s John Furner who discussed concerns about climate change and the importance of diversity and inclusion, to Pepsi CEO Steven Williams who talked about sustainability as it relates to the value chains of products from farm fields to packaging composability.
On the flip side, being a “sustainable retailer” is not an easy gig, and according to Home Depot CEO Ron Jarvis, there’s really no such thing as an environmentally friendly company. According to Jarvis, “Unless you’re an organic garden grower that has your garden by the river, and you deliver all your products in a wagon and a buggy, then you’re not environmentally friendly.
Jarvis goes on to say that everything that retailers do has an environmental impact. Retailers have the burden of looking at all the factors and deciding which ones are acceptable risk, which ones could hurt the greater good, and which ones could hurt society.
We want your thoughts on retail sustainability
When it comes to sustainability in retail and all that entails, I’ve only just scratched the surface on this topic. There is so much more we could dish about, including Earth-friendly packaging, rental business models, incentivized recycling, eco-energy delivery options and more. More to talk about on another day!
If you have any comments or insights on this topic, our crew would like to hear from you! The Ketner Group team loves to talk retail, give us a shout to learn how our retail expertise can help elevate brand awareness and support your marketing goals.