With climate change, plastic pollution and other sustainability issues continuing to hit the headlines, what do retail professionals think about sustainability issues for brands? Does building sustainability into a brand make sense for business, as well as for the planet? And where do retail displays fit into this bigger picture?
A recent survey we conducted amongst retail professionals revealed a strong consensus that building sustainability into a brand offers significant potential to boost business. Of the 200 people surveyed, 86% believe sustainability is important to customers when making a purchase decision.
When asked how important it is to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability in different aspects of a brand, respondents rated customer-facing elements relatively highly: 67% said it is either critical or very important to demonstrate a commitment to sustainable packaging and 61% to demonstrate a commitment to sustainable retail displays.
It’s easy to see why it makes good business sense to pay attention to demonstrating sustainable practices here. Both packaging and display are on show to the customer, and have an immediate impact on the sales experience.
On top of this, 90% expect that implementing a sustainability programme for retail displays will increase sales. Reinforcing the message, 79% of respondents thought that profits could decrease if sustainability programmes for retail displays aren’t implemented.
So are people putting these beliefs into practice?
The survey suggests that beliefs about the benefits of sustainability aren’t always being translated into practical actions. Only 52% of respondents say they are currently investigating recycling services for retail displays. Of the 75% who said their brand has a recycling policy for displays, only 38% said the initiative had been led by the brand itself.
But the survey also shows that efforts to put sustainable policies in place can face significant obstacles. The top three challenges came out as Brexit uncertainty (58% said this was very or quite challenging), organisational culture (49%), and lack of knowledge about sustainability services available (46%).
The top reasons given for not having a recycling policy or not investigating recycling were that people were unaware of any services for recycling end of life retail and that it wasn’t a corporate brand priority.
And looking to the future?
The future of retail is green. 86% of respondents believe sustainability will become more important to customers in the future, and most respondents without sustainability measures in place are planning to introduce them shortly. Respondents believe the most important elements of the brand with regards to sustainability will continue to be packaging and retail display.
It’s clear that brands that act fast to improve and demonstrate sustainability credentials have the opportunity to seize market share from those that don’t. Customers want to make ethical buying decisions – and retail professionals can realise genuine business benefits by making those decisions easier.
To find out more about our research, you can download the full sustainability report.