Retailers benefit both from their own sustainability efforts and those of the merchandise partners they buy from, thereby transforming a positive social and environmental impact into brand value. As consumer education around climate science and the impact of the products they use grows, shoppers are increasingly favoring retailers with sustainable offerings over those with products and business models. are more harmful to the environment, or do not take climate action and set sustainable development goals. Brands and retailers are responding to this change in behavior by adopting sustainable business practices every step of the product journey, finding that their positive impact can drive efficiencies and ensure long-term value and customer loyalty.
Taking a holistic approach to environmentally responsible practices has quickly become the new business standard, as consumers, government regulators and sustainability experts call for more operational transparency and accountability. Many branded manufacturers are rethinking and reorganizing their supply chain and manufacturing processes to be more efficient in terms of supply and production waste, while carefully examining their overall impact on natural resources. At the same time, companies are making the informed decision to revisit their product development pipeline and consider alternative natural materials and designs that make it easier to repair, recycle or recycle basic components to keep them in service and out of landfills. .
Leading organizations view environmental initiatives as a compelling competitive advantage, a vision that is reflected and reinforced by buyer behaviors, and companies embrace eco-friendly initiatives as opportunities to create better products, streamline their businesses. operations and deliver value every step of the way. How a company defines its materials sourcing strategy and the level of transparency of its product supply chain can influence supplier behaviors such as reducing carbon emissions, using renewable and clean energy. , or the cessation of the exploitation of cheap or even servile labor. This approach requires long-term planning, better communication between departments and partners, and a shift in systematic thinking to replace the linear way in which products have traditionally been designed, manufactured and phased out.
The emerging circular operational approach sees both the product and the customer relationship as a continuous life cycle with shared responsibility throughout. In practical terms, this translates into companies using education to help their customers and suppliers adopt better behaviors and take incremental action to achieve greater collective results, as well as find innovative ways to keep products. and their packaging in circulation longer to reverse the effects of yesteryear. culture of elimination.
From source to sale and beyond, a wide range of companies across all industries prioritize product-based sustainability efforts to open up new opportunities and drive competitive differentiation through an enhanced relationship with their companies. customers and the planet. To help our members better understand this increasingly complex and important space, the PSFK research team has identified six key trends behind innovations in sustainable retail, bringing them to life with recent examples from the market.
Born Again Merchandise
Second-hand retail was once the domain of thrift stores, consignment stores, or peer-to-peer sales, but consumer interest in vintage purchases, rentals, and other designs has encouraged retailers to resell their own products directly. Retailers creating new ‘circular economy’ programs to take back little used items from customers (often offering credit or reward in return) and clean and refurbish an organized selection of those items for resale in store or online at a reduced price.
High efficiency, low impact sourcing
As brands seek to source more sustainable materials to use in their products and packaging, many seek alternatives not in nature but in science. In the same way that meat and dairy substitutes are designed, companies are turning to lab-grown substitutes for a range of materials from textiles and leathers to cement and insulation. By creating new and needed components under controlled conditions, these processes can produce higher yields with less variance, while conserving limited natural resources and reducing the impact of carbon-intensive and chemically-intensive procurement methods. harmful.
As conversations about sustainability, eco-friendly practices and the climate continue to gain prominence, leading brands and retailers are considering the post-purchase impact of their products. Particularly in durable goods categories like home furnishings and consumer electronics, the closed and linear approach that focused on single ownership, prohibitively expensive repairs and planned obsolescence is replaced by a more open approach. and modular. As part of this new circular model, companies are considering aftermarket product designs and processes to allow homeowners to repair, upgrade, or reuse their products for lifelong use.
Designer Rebecca Minkoff reveals the ecological impact of the product with resonance
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