Are Retail and E-Commerce Customers Ready for Sustainability?

Sep 27, 2021

(Image Source: Pexels)

We’ve seen surveys about changing consumers’ behavior and preference towards sustainable products. However, in reality, it may appear that many of these consumers seem to be ‘talking the walk’ without taking any real action which often frustrates retailers. 

In this panel discussion, we consulted experts from the sustainable retail industry if they have observed a shift in consumers’ mindset on shopping sustainably. Let’s explore what is the state of sustainability in retail for today’s consumers.

What Customers Demand For is More Than Just ‘Sustainable’

Typically, most consumers from the mass market would not purchase a product just because of environmental reasons. It has to go hand in hand with a design they like, affordable pricing, and also prove to have equal or superior quality to alternatives. 

Sarah, the founder of Retykle, shared that there has been a lot of progress in secondhand retail platforms. Leading a children’s designer clothing resale platform herself, she did observe a shift in customers’ purchasing behavior. Customers who usually purchase lower-priced mass-produced items are willing to convert that wallet share for luxury secondhand items, making customers gain both sustainable and good quality products. 

As long as there are obvious benefits in addition to the sustainability proposition, customers have been more willing to change their behaviors.

Mindset Shift Over Behavior Shift

All changes begin with the mind – it is important to influence a shift in mindset in order to effect any behavioral change in consumers. Nina brought up a very important point:

“The most sustainable product is the one that is not produced. And the best product that you can buy is the one that you don’t buy as a customer.”

As consumers, we like to be on top of the latest trends by making purchases continuously. This however leads to excessive consumerism. It is therefore up to retailers, as trendsetters, to create and promote everlasting styles and encourage consumers to move beyond merely chasing trends. Retailers can explore new business models such as offering rental or resale options, and even upcycling fashion. One innovative example in the fashion industry is the concept of digital fashion; instead of purchasing a physical product, consumers can purchase a product to post on social media.

Check out the full discussion on the video below. You wouldn’t want to miss it!

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