The switch to more sustainable packaging and business practice in no longer just an ethical choice. It is also being demanded by shoppers, who are increasingly aware and educated to the environmental impacts of their consumption choices.
A good product is no longer enough to win a consumer's favor. Shoppers want more than just quality, increasingly looking for products and brands that align with their personal values.
As the age old saying goes "the biggest vote you can make is with your dollar," and consumers are increasingly aware of this votes importance. As social values globally change with increased awareness of the climate catastrophe and the negative impact that our consumerism has had on our natural world. More people than ever are questioning the ethics and business practices behind the brands they interact with, and are choosing not to support brands financially if they don't agree with their social and environmental values. Whether it be for social clout or personal concern, in the face of climate change and with the internet allowing increased transparency into brand practices, Consumers are ready to consider the consequences of their shopping habits.
The fashion industry is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to pollution. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, 26 billion pounds of textiles end up in landfills each year. These stats are shocking, however the industry has a long history of environmental and human rights abuses. It is the communities awareness and conversation that has changed.
Realistically, most consumers won't quit shopping cold-turkey overnight and they may not even give up all fast-fashion. However, many people are willing to change their habits for the better and the social pressure to be seen to do so, is higher than ever. People are looking for ways that they can shop in more ethical ways. They are begging for circular-economy options which provide alternatives to they way they have been consuming up until now.
Dr. Matt Johnson, professor at Hult International Business School and founder of neuromarketing blog Pop Neuro, says, "There is accumulating evidence that consumers are impacted by the perceived sustainability of [a] brand, and further, that consumers are willing to pay a premium for products from a sustainable brand over a non-sustainable competitor brand."
Value and ease of purchase are still the main drivers of buying decisions, but sustainability is becoming a bigger factor. A 2019 survey led by Hotwire found that 47% of internet users worldwide had ditched products and services from a brand that violated their personal values. Protecting the environment topped that list.
Even if being sustainable isn't a personal priority for some shoppers, the idea of using a purchase to do good is attractive to many.
Purchasing expensive products that are environmentally-friendly in some way can help us compensate for the guilt we feel about our self-indulgent spending, Dr. Johnson explains. "A part of us feels guilty about the money we're spending on a new Prius, for example, but the fact that it's a product which has an environmentally friendly angle helps us feel better about the purchase."
For many shoppers, though, choosing a sustainable product is a personal priority, and they want people to know it. It's called Social Signaling, a theory that we buy certain things because of what they say about us to the people around us. People buy designer bags not only because they like the style, but because of the message they tell the world when they're holding one and the social status the product imbues. It is therefor increasingly important that a business communicates its sustainability plan with it's consumers to give them security in the choices they are making.
Traditionally you'd expect to only find labels like "organic" and "sustainably-grown" in the grocery aisle, however we are now seeing this same language becoming popular in the fashion industry too. While the history and trend driven nature of the industry may make the term "sustainable fashion" almost an oxymoron, more and more brands are bettering their business with eco-friendly practices.
Brands are benefiting from heading the call of consumers, reducing their carbon footprint and negative environmental impact through their production processes. From reducing wasteful practices like; overprinting look books, throwing out yards of leftover fabric, to changing the actual fabrications used in production. Moving away from highly artificial textiles that give off high amounts of micro-plastics when washed. Brands that have made a public and transparent move away from the rag trades traditionally environmentally damaging ways, are being rewarded by the market and increasing their share of it.
The move to sustainable business practice must of course include all levels of a products delivery process though. Few consumers, who have only shopped in brick-and-mortor environments before, would be aware of the mass plastic packaging involved when shipping pieces from a manufacturer to the store front. With each piece individually wrapped, the plastic packaging waste was already an issue for many designers attempting to reduce their impact. With the rise of eCommerce, which has been even further expanded by the lockdowns of 2020 and beyond, this plastic packaging waste is even further plaguing industry.
Many retailers are already benefiting from changing to more sustainable packaging alternatives. Eco friendly changes such as switching to home compostable and sustainable mail satchels, like our EarthMail Packs which will break down in your customers home composts. Allow business's to make instant improvements to their supply chains while they work to make larger environmentally friendly changes to their business strategy.
This same bioplastic technology is also being used by some of our clients in other parts of their sustainability plans. Many have ordered poly bags for their warehouses to ensure that each individual garment is packaged and shipped sustainably from creation. Get in contact with us today if you would like to speak more about sustainable packaging for each stage of your production process.
In conclusion while many of us have been long aware of our moral responsibility to make environmentally ethical choices within our business practices. The evidence now shows it is also a a positive choice on a marketing level as well. While "green washing" is a well known problem we should all ensure not to engage. Making real positive steps in the sustainability of your business practices, from how you produce your products and what from, to sustainable packaging. All give your shoppers more confidence at the checkout and customers are willing to pay higher prices, when reasonable, to support business's in these eco-friendly changes.
So how could you be more sustainable starting today?