These days, sustainability and environmental and eco-friendliness are increasingly in the public eye. They are promoted in the news, in social media, by the government and are reinforced by messages from organisations about their own efforts.
More and more people, it seems, want to be a part of the effort to protect our planet.
Unfortunately, some of us are not sure how we can play a significant part in this change, so we look to larger organisations for a sense of involvement and contribution to this important global initiative. This is not a revolutionary insight. It is the reason why it has become favourable for all types of organisations to be seen to be environmentally conscious.
The most obvious example is the energy industry:
“I can’t possibly reduce fossil fuel usage on a large scale! But what if I power my home with electricity from a company that promotes renewables? I’ll help to have a larger global impact, right?”
Those of us that want to be eco-friendly, but are not quite eco-warriors, may apply this thought process to decisions we make about who we spend our money with on a day-to-day basis.
Large retailers are important to huge breadths of people, as almost everybody will spend money with a retailer during their lifetime, simply through necessity. It is no surprise then, that retailers great and small are also striving to be environmentally and socially responsible organisations.
In this unique industry though, is there more potential that we are missing?
I believe that retailers are even more powerfully positioned to support environmental efforts than similar sized organisations in other industries.
In addition to being influential organisations, retailers are enablers of our own personal actions and efforts. We go to retailers for our everyday commodities and it is through changes to our “everyday” that we are all able to make greater overall contributions to protecting our planet.
So what does this mean for retailers? Aside from the opportunity to use this influence for good, this presents a way to double down on sustainability claims and win even more customer loyalty.
The effects could be three-fold:
- Through the door: With effective marketing, Retailer A give me the impression that they are more eco-friendly than Retailer B. Based on this new perception, I make the decision to start shopping with Retailer A, to fund a more environmentally and socially responsible business.
- In the store: Half way through my weekly shop, I notice Retailer A provides an own brand equivalent of my favourite juice (orange, with pulp by the way) in an eco-friendly, plastic-free, recyclable carton. I buy this juice and over the next few weeks start to notice that Retailer A offers environmentally friendly, own brand versions of many of the products I buy on a weekly basis. How great!
- Inviting more: By supporting Retailer A’s business and by buying more sustainable products, I feel like I’m part of a larger community making a positive impact on an issue I care about. My efforts aren’t in vain as I’m not alone, I’m supported by my retailer of choice. Finally, I decide to spread the word and tell my like-minded friends to follow my lead.
Currently, the eco-friendly customer journey largely ends at step one. However, with the right product offerings, particularly in own brand ranges, there is a real opportunity for supermarkets to gain the loyalty of the increasing number of sustainability conscious shoppers in the public.