Due to climate change and the exhaustion of resources, Earth Day means more to customers today than ever before. Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd, and it’s a great opportunity for retailers to connect with globally-minded green consumers.
Since are aware of the environmental and societal impact of how they spend their money, there has been a shift towards conscious consumption.
Although Millennials don’t deserve all of the credit, studies prove they are more socially conscious with their purchases than any generation that precedes them. A 2015 Nielsen study found that almost three out of four Millennial and Generation Z respondents are willing to spend more for a sustainable product, along with over half of Baby Boomers.
Enter the New Consumer
Because of consumer preference for socially conscious product, sustainable business practices and the promotion thereof are integral components of a successful marketing strategy. Earth Day is the perfect time to create (and promote) a globally conscious brand.
The Woke Consumer
In wake of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, which killed 1,129 people, many consumers vowed to pay more attention to where and how their clothing was made. Still, clothing waste has doubled in the past 20 years, with the average American throwing away around 70 lbs of textiles annually. In response to this excess, consumers are increasingly interested in buying fewer, higher quality pieces of ethically produced apparel.
Ethical fashion is an umbrella term used to refer to clothing which is sustainably designed, manufactured, sourced, and sold. Although ethical fashion doesn’t have official parameters, it is defined by the Ethical Fashion Forum as apparel which “maximizes benefit to people and communities while minimizing impact on the environment,”.
This often refers to Fair Trade goods which are produced with minimal resources, without causing harm to animals or the environment.
Big Brands are Catering to the Ethical Fashion Consumer
A common misconception about ethical fashion is that it is uncool or less attractive than clothing that is not sustainably made. Levi’s, Patagonia, H&M and True Religion, among others, have started offering denim made with minimal water.
North Face offers customers drop-off bins for old merchandise, from which they make upcycled apparel. Reformation makes trend-conscious, beautiful (if pricey) sustainable clothing with minimal environmental impact. The bottom line: sustainability sells, and Earth Day is the perfect time to start catering to the green consumer.
Get Green Power
Companies such as Kohl’s, Google, Starbucks and Apple reduce their carbon footprint with green power, aka renewable energy; instead of traditional energy sources such as fossil fuels and nuclear power. Green power is defined by the EPA as “electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources.”
Who’s the Leader Now?
Companies like Walmart are also opting for energy efficient lighting. LED or CFL (compact fluorescent lights) are easier on the eyes and reduce energy consumption and expenses over time. Corporate social responsibility starts at the top.
Green power can be implemented at different levels, depending on the needs and budget of the company. Although the initial investment may seem lofty, green power results in reduced electricity bills and saves money over time. Check out the Fortune 500 list of sustainable supergiants for Earth Day inspiration.
Pare Down or Digitize
QR code receipts are a great way for companies to go paperless and to engage with their customers. The green customer appreciates knowing that they’re doing business with an environmentally conscious company, and with AllReceipts, companies can send customers digital coupons or invite them to loyalty programs after the sale.
If customers or companies aren’t prepared to go completely paperless, companies can reduce paper consumption by offering micro receipts. AllReceipts saves companies up to 80% in receipt paper by printing small scannable codes. Customers scan the QR code on their smartphones to view the full receipt, which helps retailers keep track of sales and increase customer engagement.
This also allow consumers to use mobile coupons in the AllReceipts app.
Offer Reusable Bags
Offering customers the option to buy reusable bags in-store not only helps reduce the use of plastic, but the bags serve as advertisement for the company in question. California spearheaded the bag-free movement, charging a 10 cent minimum bag tax every time a non reusable bag is used. Although charging customers for bags when it’s not state mandated probably isn’t the best bet for customer retention, by offering customers an incentive — such as a small discount — to bring their own bag, companies can encourage eco consciousness and consumer loyalty.
Jasmine Glasheen is a Freelance Writer and Retail Strategist. A panelist on RetailWire’s BrainTrust, Jasmine has been published on Retailwire, Independent Retailer, CART, and many others. She was formerly the editor of Off-Price Retailing magazine, and has been quoted both in Forbes and in RetailDive. When she’s not at her keyboard, you’ll find her guzzling kombucha or dancing like a maniac. LinkedIn | Twitter