Consumers are being driven and influenced by ethical issues and sustainable concerns

Consumers are being driven and influenced by ethical issues and sustainable concerns

Retail – Workplace December 2017

Space Race

Global financial services firm Morgan Stanley recently conducted a survey in the UK which looked at shopping with a conscience and there could be some pointers for your retail business in the findings.

Although aimed primarily at the fashion retailing sector, there could be takeaways from the findings for other sectors, too. While the study concluded that the price and quality of products still ranked highest in buyer decision-making, ethical concerns had gained significant traction over earlier surveys – especially among younger shoppers and women.

Looking at the realm of shopping with a conscience more broadly – conscious consumption – here’s some thoughts and ideas to mull over:

• Consumers are increasingly aware of, and may make purchasing choices based on, the way products are made and sourced – fair trade is a promotable value

• Consider whether you need all of that extra wrapping paper in your store bags

• Consider ways of fostering transparency in your supply chain

• Identify ways to let your customers know about the back story to the products you sell

• Consumers identify with businesses and brands that also have a social conscience – so if you give a proportion of profit to charity or help social organisations in other ways, get that message across

• The fashion industry has come under the spotlight in recent times with the likes of workers’ safety, rights and working conditions in those countries where garments are made being highlighted and those concerns are applicable to other sectors, too

• The movement to phase out single use plastic bags from New Zealand supermarkets is gaining momentum and it is becoming standard now for other retailers to ask shoppers whether they “need a bag” with their purchase

• Supermarkets are reinforcing this move to less plastic with in-store recycling hubs for shoppers to return unwanted packaging, while there is a growing market for cloth or paper bags as a more environmentally-acceptable option

• Refillable containers are finding favour with shoppers and everything from fill-your-own beer to shampoo is available from selected outlets

• Op-shopping is fashionable – across demographics – and this is not always primarily price-driven because environmental concerns also figure highly on some shoppers’ radars

• Consider how you can align your business with the values and concerns of your target buyer audience

• Ravi Dhar, a professor of management and marketing at the Yale School of Management, has identified three themes that he says are helping businesses succeed when traditional strategies aren’t hitting the mark: authenticity, locally-produced products and aspirational messaging.

All indications are that the retail sector is an evolving space where consumers are being increasingly driven and influenced by ethical issues and sustainable concerns.

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