Studies, and even occasional observances, support the idea that most people are more socially aware today than they were a year ago, a month ago, or even yesterday. Being committed to social and environmental change is no longer just a noble idea that exists in the ether. These are significant, impactful and determining factors that have value and consequences for individuals and businesses alike.
Consumers of all generations, geographies and socio-economic backgrounds seek out and respond to brands that communicate values that reflect theirs. Companies are now evaluated not only on the scope and quality of their products or services, but also on how they give back and what they do to make the world a better place. If your retail or e-commerce business isn’t on board, you’re sure to be eclipsed by environmentally conscious competitors.
The behavior of the company generates the behavior of the consumer.
Consumers want action, in large part because of the pandemic. According to global research firm GWI 2021 study of consumption trends of internet users globally, in July 2020, 72% of consumers in 20 countries said sustainably behaving businesses were more important to them due to Covid-19. The study also found that having a poor environmental record is one of the top three factors influencing consumer behavior: 2 in 5 respondents (39%) cite it as one of their top purchasing concerns.
Research of IBM’s 2020 Report– explain why brands must offer ubiquity, agility and sustainability – consumer desire for sustainable products has increased. Almost 60% said they were ready to change their shopping habits to reduce the environmental impact, and more than 70% said they would pay extra (35% on average) for sustainable and respectful brands of the environment.
The packaging is essential.
In Dotcom Distribution’s annual study of American online shoppers, sustainable packaging emerged as a major factor in the conduct of purchases and affinity with the brand. Compared to other integrated components like free samples, gift-type packaging and personal messages, sustainable packaging was found to be the most influential (42%). Sustainable packaging was still reported as the most important characteristic, even when weighed against other environmental factors, but respondents’ interest in fuel efficient transport methods and natural / chemical / environmentally friendly products. herbal is gaining more and more importance. This indicates that consumers are starting to think more holistically.
Survey participants also made it clear that when it comes to online packages, paper beats plastic: given the choice of receiving an online order in a box or polybag, 82% of all respondents prefer boxes.
Obtain feedback on customer feedback.
Samantha Mansfield, chief strategy officer at the global customer experience and commerce agency LiveArea EMEA, recently told Retail Gazette: “Our to research found that 71% of consumers would change their online shopping habits if they knew returned items would be landfilled or destroyed. “
Echoing the impact of modern return policies on the environment and the customer experience, Dotcom’s study found that 27% of those surveyed who had received a no-return refund said that eliminating the return shipping made them want to shop with a brand again. Meanwhile, 40% said the policy made them want to shop with the brand again.
What do you do?
Here are some steps you can take to help your business become more environmentally conscious:
- Join an organization with programs or committees dedicated to the environment and other corporate social responsibility issues. There are general ones that run the gamut of retail, such as Association of Retail Industry Leaders (RILA) or Sustainable brands, and there are others specific to verticals, such as The Fashion Pact.
- Assign responsibility for setting and managing environmental goals to a member of the board, committee or other appropriate associates. RILA Retail sustainability leadership model, to use their own description, is “a tool for retail sustainability managers to identify management practices that will improve business and environmental performance.” Retailers can also refer to Sustainable development resource library for more tools and inspiration to promote progress.
- Look for gatherings – virtual and physical, depending on availability and your comfort level – that deal or focus entirely on environmental awareness, sustainability, etc. The Sustainable Trade Summit, or the Global Summit on Sustainable Retail. GreenBiz is also a good source of regional, national and global events that bring together thoughtful professionals in sustainability, technology and business.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to becoming a “greener” business, and no organization has done it perfectly. But as consumers want to support businesses that are not only environmentally conscious but active, it is incumbent on retailers and e-commerce brands to invest in “brand awareness”. This strategic exercise helps you discover who you are, what you stand for and what kind of future you are best equipped and most likely to help build for your people and the world.