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5 Steps for Attracting Eco-Conscious Shoppers

Posted by Julia Morrissey on Apr 22, 2022

Last updated on May 11th, 2022 at 09:35 am

For several years there was a growing segment of retail consumers who included a company’s sustainability profile in their purchasing decision. A brand that didn’t appear to care about its environmental footprint, or worse, one that couldn’t back up its claims and appeared to be greenwashing, would suffer with this segment.

In 2020, less consumers were seeking out sustainable brands because they were focused on just getting products safely and promptly. However, today, as people adjust to a world where COVID-19 is less of a concern, many are once again favoring companies that prioritize sustainability. 

Besides being able to truly say you’re leaving the world a better place than you found it, becoming a sustainable brand has additional perks. Appealing to shoppers who care about sustainability can drive revenue, as 68% of Americans say they’ll pay more for a sustainable product.

Below, we share five tips for how your brand can capture eco-conscious consumers. 

1. Reduce Single-Use Plastics

It’s clear that single-use plastic is a problem. Brands need to eliminate or drastically reduce their use of disposable plastics not only because it’s good for the environment, but also because it is what customers increasingly want.

Only 14% of plastic packaging is recycled, which is discouraging, especially considering the fact that consumers return nearly 21 percent of their online purchases. To combat this problem, you want to seek out plastic alternatives, like biodegradable films made from starch and cellulose, which is becoming more common. 

Many companies have made the switch to more sustainable materials across their supply chain. For example, NewStore customer Marine Layer, the San Francisco-based clothing company uses plastic bottle waste as fibers. Other leaders include British retailer Riz Board Shorts, which turns plastic into colorful surf wear, and Preserve, a brand that processes throw-away yogurt cups into colorful razors and toothbrushes.

Reducing your reliance on single-use plastics is key for becoming a sustainable brand.

2. Resell Used Products

After many decades of fast fashion, and consequently 85% of clothing in the U.S. ending up in landfills, consumers are finding value in second-hand items. In fact, the resale fashion market is predicted to be worth $77 billion by 2026.

Big name brands such as Levi’s, Patagonia, and Lululemon have introduced second-hand markets for their own products. Buy-back plans, where you accept returned items to be repaired, resold or recycled into new products, or partnerships with resale platforms, are good ways to begin acquiring used items.

Is there value in your second-hand products? In the past many brands weren’t interested in branching into this market for two reasons: One, the cost of procuring used items and then cataloging and preparing them for sale, and two, a concern that selling a used product at a lower price point cancels out the sale of a new product. While valid concerns, you have to consider the impact you want to have and the message you want to send. 

If sustainability is important to you, this is a great avenue for reducing waste and showing customers you care about the planet over just profits.  

3. Turn Your Store Green

Lighting, heating, and cooling make up 60% of the energy costs in an average retail facility. Even if you aren’t motivated by environmental concerns, going green can actually lower overhead costs. Energy-efficient lighting, water-use regulators, improved insulation around windows and doors, and heat-blocking window films are among the most common commercial solutions to save on energy costs. If these are in place they should be part of your sustainability messaging. 

You can also take advantage of services that offer high-tech energy monitoring. These give you real-time views of how much energy is consumed in each location, which allows you to track down drafts and leaks and even judge the daily performance of HVAC equipment to see problems before they develop.

4. Improve Fulfillment

The average diesel delivery truck emits 18.7 tons of carbon dioxide annually, and according to a report by the World Economic Forum, the number of delivery vehicles on the road in the top 100 global cities will increase by 36% by 2030.

Most retail brands don’t have an array of choices on last-mile delivery. It’s dominated by either Amazon or UPS. Fortunately, both delivery providers are committed to utilizing more electric and low-emission trucks and vans in the near future. 

However, as a brand there is something you can do to make shipping more sustainable. A modern omnichannel order management system allows for smart order routing and store fulfillment. Smart order routing allows you to cut waste by avoiding split shipments and convoluted shopping journeys. With store fulfillment you can allow customers to buy online and pick up in-store or ship from the store nearest to the customer.

5. Talk About Your Efforts

Your eco-conscious consumers want to know what initiatives you’re taking and what impact they are having.

Have a page on your website devoted to how you’re addressing environmental concerns. Use social media to connect with your customers and post about your sustainability efforts so that those following your brand on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms stay in the know. And don’t forget to utilize email. This can be an effective tool to reach your loyal customers.

You might also consider donating a percentage of each sale to an environmental cause as another way to demonstrate your commitment. An initiative such as this should certainly be advertised as there are many customers that will likely jump on the opportunity to be part of a good cause.To summarize, if your sustainability program is genuine and effective, there’s an opportunity to use it to connect with your eco-conscious customers. Be transparent, show what you’re doing to make the world a better place, and these shoppers will follow. 

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