Posted by Stewart Wilkinson, Partner
Retail and the environment: is the future unpacked?
Environmental reputation is perhaps not yet the factor that can make or break your brand, but it’s playing an increasingly important role.
In the survey of 50 retail business decision-makers which we conducted just a couple of weeks ago, we asked the respondents what factors they thought might give their businesses the edge in the next five years.
Experiential retail was the most popular answer at 64%, followed by environmental reputation at 19%. Clearly, the retailers are aware of the modern consumers’ environmental concerns. Waitrose announcing its ‘Waitrose Unpacked’ scheme – which will see products such as rice, coffee and pasta sold loose in dispensers, while frozen fruits will be offered as a packaging-free ‘pick and mix’ – is definitely a clear sign of where the market is headed.
The trial scheme, aiming to “find out how people might shop in the future”, has a nostalgic ring to it; those over 35 will remember bringing their own containers to food shops and welcome the return to simpler, more sustainable times.
Waitrose’s initiative is also likely to be welcomed by the environmentally-conscious millennials and Generation Z. These shoppers are so sustainability-conscious that they have – you guessed it! – an app for it. “Good On You” is described as an ethical fashion app and is seen as a world-leading source of trusted brand ratings, articles and guides on ethical and sustainable fashion. It gives users the power to check brand ratings while they shop; over 2,000 brands are rated “we avoid”, “not good enough”, “it’s a start”, “good” and “great”. Supermarkets are not yet on the app, but the trend is clear.
What’s more, Waitrose’s initiative is good both for planet and for our wallets: produce in the unpacked refill stations will be up to 15% cheaper.
So what are you waiting for? Grab that container and head to Waitrose *.
To find out what other questions retailers answered in our poll, take a look at the infographic and for expert commentary and advice, get in touch with our specialist Retail sector team.