What are our values? How do your choices of what you eat and what clothes you wear reflect who you are? Most people might guess the answer to these questions is “a lot”. But we don’t need to guess. Stifel and Morning Consult measured sustainability ratings for 50 active/casual lifestyle brands among consumers in the U.S. according to three metrics of sustainability: environmental sustainability, ethical business practices, and social sustainability.
The answer is overwhelmingly the same around the world. Between 70-90% of all consumers see sustainability as an important factor in their shopping behavior. Sustainability is even more important in consumer minds than trendiness (approximately 40% versus 20%) and roughly on par with style and price. That is a huge leap in consumer behavior – you may not be able to compete on price alone anymore.
A 2019 survey led by Hotwire found that 47% of internet users worldwide had ditched products and services from a brand that violated their personal values. Protecting the environment topped that list. However, this is an important change that is still in its infancy. Some brands claiming to be sustainable are intentionally using misleading imagery or content, sometimes called greenwashing, because the power of sustainability as a brand driver is so strong. With the high demand of products being sustainable, it is necessary that brands are doing their honest work with doing good for the planet.
All of this might be confirmation of the obvious for many but looking a bit deeper it has serious implications for us to consider when we are designing customer experiences for our sites and stores. Consumers want to know about your sustainable practices. In fact, three in five consumers say they look for information about a brand’s sustainability practices at least somewhat often, including one in five who do it very often.
If your customers are increasingly concerned with sustainability and would even pay a premium for brands that are sustainable, then you need to communicate to them your efforts towards these worthy goals. If brands have to be transparent about their sustainability efforts, then companies like H&M are showing how this transparency can look in practice. Recently, H&M announced it will be adding the Higg Index Sustainability Profiles on its clothing in an effort to provide customers with information about the environmental impact of the product. With an easy-to-understand score of 1-3 with more information available at the click of a button.
Many other brands are getting on the bandwagon. Target has a goal to use 100% sustainable, organic cotton in all products from Target-owned brands by 2022 and is publishing this on site. Nordstrom recently launched a Sustainable Style category to help shoppers easily find responsibly-made products. With the huge amount of brands that are currently putting sustainability as a priority, it is essential that the communication channels that brands use to let their consumers understand the improvements they have made to become more sustainable. This is not just about looking after the environment of the place we live in but also caring for the people that are part of our society.
The effective communication to your customers starts with data. Sourcing, materials, and manufacturing are all features of the retail industry that can be optimized for sustainability. One major step that brands in the retail industry can take is to become more transparent and traceable. Each and every consumer will have their personal sustainable values that they prioritize. Thus, with publishing sustainability reports and by giving consumers the access to understand the efforts that your brand has made to protect the world through both environmental and social aspects.
Delvify helps companies achieve this through analyzing the inventory data available and providing them with more sustainable recommendations of the platform’s existing products. If your customer is looking for a specific product, then Delvify’s recommendation system can promote further sustainable products. With the exposure of more sustainable products, you will be able to showcase the sustainable efforts your brand has as a forefront but also be able to allow your consumers to trace back on your supply chain if they would like to find out more. Ultimately, our team at Delvify aims to support the efforts of businesses and improve the sustainability of their operations. Let’s do our part and leave the world a better place for generations to come.