Over the past decade, retailers and CPG brands have undertaken countless sustainability initiatives, with a particular focus on low carbon emission delivery, energy-efficient equipment, environmentally friendly packaging and recycled materials. This strategy is starting to pay off, given that financial markets now value ESR efforts highly and consumers prefer more environmentally friendly brands and retailers.
Having a business strategy with sustainability at its heart has become essential to gaining competitive advantage. However, most companies are still struggling to implement sustainability across their distribution channels and customer touchpoints.
The COVID 19 pandemic has enhanced customers’ expectations regarding sustainability, supply chain resilience and product information and traceability. More than ever, customers are looking for a safe customer journey and sustainable choices – and expect brands and retailers to provide them.
The pandemic has also led to unprecedented growth in sales via digital channels. Companies that were lagging behind in their omnichannel strategy have had to catch up to stay competitive. This trend is likely to continue in the new post-pandemic world, given that customer buying behaviour has shifted permanently to the online environment. With sustainability now at the top of the agenda, the challenge for branded goods manufacturers and retail company leaders is to recognize the step-change they now need to make to drive a sustainable strategy across all channels.
They should promote sustainability via their purpose, product range, marketing and pricing policy and guide customers toward sustainable choices. This means giving their customers the option to choose sustainability b offering environmentally friendly products – their own and those from other brands – in all channels. It involves providing detailed product information and eco-friendly delivery options that enable customers to act in a sustainable way.
For example, clothing company H&M is using tags to indicate where products contain at least 50% sustainable materials and furniture company IKEA has committed, by 2030, to reduce the environmental footprint of its products by 70% and use only recycled and renewable materials.