How Sustainability Will Lead Retail’s Transformation
The following article by Kim Melvin, Senior Director of Global Marketing for Sensormatic Solutions, first appeared in Today’s Grocer.
There was a time when American shoppers consumed without a second thought about the products origins—but research says those days are gone. In a recent study by Sensormatic Solutions, 79 percent of U.S. adults surveyed said they consider sustainability when making at least some purchases.
Furthermore, our research found that nearly half of consumers believe that businesses—not individuals nor government agencies—bear the responsibility for operating more sustainably. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever before that retailers rethink their operations to meet customers’ growing desire for responsible retail.
Consumer sensibilities are shifting, and retailers are recognizing that prioritizing sustainability is an integral business strategy. Thirty-five percent of brands are investing in long-term sustainability goals. Additionally, 41 percent are taking steps to be more transparent about their sustainability vision—a strategic move, considering our consumer data reflects customers’ desires to know more about the sustainability efforts retailers are undertaking.
The increased focus on sustainability could significantly benefit retailers who embrace the shift early. Our research showed 68 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable items, despite cost being the most significant barrier to sustainable shopping. Even more important, 95 percent of consumers said they would participate in recycling and reuse programs if those programs were available in their area and incentivized. Retailers who invest in these and other innovations could enjoy increased traffic and loyalty as consumers will associate the brands with positive, sustainable retail practices.
Taking the leap
This interest in sustainable shopping might be jarring for grocers who haven’t considered sustainability in their business plans. Additionally, figuring out how to meet the rising demands for sustainability, transparency, and responsible business practices can feel overwhelming. The good news is, that it doesn’t have to be—and it can mean different things for different businesses.
If you’re overwhelmed, don’t worry; our survey revealed something that might provide hope: there is no one definition of sustainable progress. Instead, consumers recognize a wide array of operational improvements and initiatives contributing to responsible retail practices. As the industry moves into a new era of green retail, the path toward more sustainable operations can mean different things to different businesses. For large grocers, it might mean reimagining food waste reduction through enhanced technologies and energy-efficient hardware. Implementing circular models that promote recycling or reuse of single-use plastic containers might do the trick for smaller, local businesses. The possibilities are limited only by retailers’ willingness to explore new avenues and the technologies that support them.
The above article by Kim Melvin, Senior Director of Global Marketing for Sensormatic Solutions, first appeared in Today’s Grocer.