Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword and is essential to how brands, retailers and SMEs respond to changing consumer expectations regarding product sourcing, packaging and delivery.
“Environmental care” is a basic requirement for new generations of consumers, millennials and centenarians, who account for nearly $800 billion in purchasing power globally, according to the E-Marketing.
Sustainability is also becoming an increasingly present requirement among other generations of adults and not only as a variable in the perception or image of brands.
Increasingly, the environment is becoming a standard for buying, investing and consuming, as very high consumer expectations are created for brands to demonstrate social and environmental responsibility. Brands that are seen as environmentally backward will lose favor with consumers especially the younger generations.
And there are many “fads”: rental real estate with offers and services of recycling, green spaces, wastewater treatment, digitization of procedures; reselling items and products instead of throwing them away; sustainable clothing automation of services that allows savings of fuel, in transportation and conversion, with lower carbon emissions; Healthy, fresh and organic foods.
In the United States, many retailers are taking advantage of these trends: Rent the Runway, TheRealReal, Poshmark, Depop, Lululemon, Ikea and Urban Outfitters.
Sustainable direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands are moving to center stage. Digitally-original D2C companies like Warby Parker and Allbirds have built their brands on sustainability and corporate responsibility, and are now under as much focus of attention as the recently listed companies.
As they and other D2C brands grow through portfolio extensions, channel expansions, and new revenue streams, their challenge will be to grow profits while staying at the core of their business.
Companies are also experimenting with adopting more sustainable packaging practices.
Amazon, for example, held a conference to consolidate orders into one weekly delivery, while it faces increasing pressure – like other tech companies – to ramp up its green actions.
Walmart aims to have 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging on its private labels by 2025 and is pushing suppliers, according to eMarketer, to significantly reduce carbon emissions as part of the Gigaton project.
In Costa Rica, we have seen the emergence of companies in the retail sector for wholesale and circular economy with proposals aimed in this regard, such as Santa Cerro in San Francisco de Heredia, El Tramito and El Estanco Verde in Carreira Vieja a Tres Rios and Santa Terre in Escalante. But sustainability isn’t just for this type of business or tourism that receives visitors from the United States, Canada and Europe who are interested in nature.