The Global Sustainability Study conducted in 2021 found that globally sustainability is rated as an important purchase criteria for 60 percent of consumers and for the younger generations this is even higher.
There has been a significant paradigm shift in how consumers view sustainability with 85 percent of consumers saying that they have shifted their purchasing behaviours to being more sustainable over the last five years. And over a third of consumers say that they are willing to pay a premium for more sustainable products.
Millennials and Gen Z are particularly motivated by a company’s green credentials and, with them making up a significant portion of the purchasing power, companies have realised that they need to embrace sustainability in order to future proof themselves both financially, but also from a reputation perspective.
Emma Lewisham of Lewisham Skincare says about the consumer sustainability movement, “I believe that to exist as a business in the 21st century you will be ethically and environmentally held to account, both by consumers and by legislation.
“Sustainability, including circular economy principles, will no longer be a ‘nice to have’, but a responsibility required of all businesses in order to operate. We will continue to see the rise of the conscious consumer who will be, I believe, an even greater driver for change than legislation,” she continued.
Emma Lewisham and the topic of the ‘conscious consumer’ and sustainability in retail will be one of the subjects discussed at the Online Retailer event which will be held on the 20-21st July at the ICC Sydney.
And consumers are no longer happy with just one element of a company being sustainable, companies need to implement sustainable practices across all aspects of their business.
Circular economies and companies are defined as an economy that uses a systems-focused approach and involves industrial processes and economic activities that are restorative or regenerative by design, enable resources used in such processes and activities to maintain their highest value for as long as possible, and aim for the elimination of waste through the superior design of materials, products, and systems (including business models). The idea is that businesses and products do not create, mine, produce a product that eventually ends up as waste, but that the whole company and product ecosystem continues to recycle.
Emma Lewisham continues, “Circularity is based around designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use and regenerating natural systems. Essentially it comes down to, reducing, reusing and regenerating. So, for retailers, regardless of what the business decision is, better accounting for circularity opportunities is about constantly keeping these principles front of mind and assessing how they can be implemented and enabled across all avenues of the business.”
Embracing sustainability and, in particular, circularity takes strong, clear principles to stick to a vision and not take the quicker or more cost-effective, less sustainable option. But with consumers looking to have their values reflected back to them by a brand, staying true to a sustainable vision will pay back.
Priscilla Hajiantoni from Bangn Bodies said about creating eco-friendly products, “We use only 100 percent recycled and recyclable materials across the entire business. In return for showcasing your values, you connect with like-minded people who become your customers as they align with your brand values.”
The journey to sustainability and a circular economy is not an easy one and needs to be continuously looked at and refreshed and Emma Lewisham recommends having experts advise you to help create the right vision and pathway, “My recommendation for any businesses – whether B2B or B2C – wishing to become more sustainable, is to partner with sustainability experts who can help guide you in writing a sustainability strategy with science-based targets. It’s important to thoroughly assess all the impacts your business has on both people and the environment, identify the areas you can have the greatest impacts and then set specific and measurable targets to work towards.
“We have found it incredibly valuable to have the expertise of an external sustainability consultancy to support us through this process. In terms of the costs of maintaining a ‘sustainable business’, we build the costs associated with producing a product that has a positive impact into our pricing and business strategies. These costs are non-negotiables for us. From our inception, we always focussed on creating the best product with the best results and best environmental and social impact first, and cost second, never the other way around.”
To hear from Emma Lewisham, Priscilla Hajiatoni and more than 110 other speakers, go to https://www.onlineretailer.com/en-gb/Ticket-Pricing.html to register and purchase tickets.