Retail's Greener Future
Today many consumers and retailers believe it is no longer enough for firms to do less harm to the environment. Rather, companies are expected to actively improve the state of the planet. We’ve attended Shop Talk Europe 2022, held in London in June, and want to share some interesting insights from businesses that have embraced the sustainability imperative.
Mark Boyd-Boland, Partner at L.E.K. Consulting, has presented the results of a broad survey across the US, the UK and Australia, which identified four main groups:
- Advocates – sustainability is a guiding principle for their behaviour, not only in terms of shopping but also in other aspects of their lives.
- Learners – they’re increasingly thinking about sustainability and keen to learn more about it, and this is starting to influence their purchasing behaviour.
- Talkers – these are the people making all the right noises and saying all the right things, but they’re not yet at a point of backing up their statements with real actions.
- Strugglers – they tend to have a lower income and struggling to work through their daily life, so sustainability is not so important to them.
Information about sustainability is still a barrier for consumers who want to make the right decision. More and more consumers are now looking at social media and company’s websites to learn more about their sustainability proposition.
Dr. Katelijn Quartier, Academic Director at Retail Design Lab, does consultancy and training for the retail industry. She says that with omnichannel retail, “the store has become another communication tool, which means retailers have to design it differently, because when the customer comes in, they see it as a brand.”
The Retail Design Lad focuses on sustainable design, calculating the impact on the environment based on a 7-year period, much more accurate in terms of the lifespan of a store before a total refurbishment. A key message is to source materials locally, to reduce the impact of transport and consider how to design a store that could be easily disassembled.
This session on sustainability at Shop Talk Europe 2022 included Genia Mineeva, founder of BEEN London, who will talk to us on a video to be published this summer. She had quite a successful career in media, working at BBC, when she watched a documentary about waste that changed the direction of her journey.
The documentary pointed out that most of our waste is not recycled, and she actually called every recycling facility in the UK to have a chat with them and they said that if somebody would buy those recycled materials, less would go into incineration and landfill.
Mineeva decided to do just that and make products out of recycled waste. She called it BEEN London precisely because every material used to make accessories has been something else already. She thinks about the end of life at the very beginning of the design process, trying to eliminate waste in how the brand operates, from materials to pattern techniques.
British Vogue named BEEN London as one of the most innovative fashion companies in the world, and the brand won awards attributed by Draper’s and Marie Claire. BEEN London partnered with larger companies in order to accelerate the impact of the brand and scale up.
The fruit of a recent collaboration is DHL x BEEN London, a collection made from used Formula One banners. She encourages other brands to create a world without waste, not through recycling, but by creating products that don’t become waste at the end of their lifecycle.
Here in the UK, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, pledged £80 million of government funding to move the fashion industry towards a more circular business model. Despite being cautiously received by the media, this is still a step in the right direction and a clear signal that sustainability needs to be taken seriously.