What Ethical Consumerism Means For The Modern Retailers
Ethical consumerism is a concept that faces both consumers and retailers. While there have always been a certain degree of standards pertaining to what defines an ethical form of consumerism, recent developments and a significant shift in sociocultural priorities have prompted a dramatic redesign of the high street and the way in which shops operate.
Customers are now less likely to support a brand or product unless it exemplifies their own moral standpoint or, by a similar token, demonstrates a preference for sustainability and ethics. In addition, employees have begun to place certain expectations upon high street brands, push for living wages and working environments that support a better standard of mental wellbeing. All of which amounts to pressure that is influencing retailers and changing the way high streets operate.
Good For The Planet
A focal point of the ethical consumer is that of being environmentally friendly. This means supporting brands and purchasing products from businesses that can assure low-impact transactions, such as sustainable packaging, charity involvement, or carbon neutrality and negativity. Quality, of course, remains a priority for many but a greater number of customers (it is estimated to now be over half) are willing to switch from a previously supported brand in favour of a more eco-friendly alternative.
Some retailers are already finding success by championing green products and services, cutting down waste, purchasing ethically-made retail furniture, from slatwall to mannequins, and operating stores with a generally lower impact. Those that face a great deal of scrutiny, such as fashion brands, are taking strides to eliminate wrongful labour practices from their supply chain while also reducing the carbon footprint of their manufacturing, all of which better meets the needs of the environmentally-conscious customer.
Good For The Community
National chains are facing greater pressure from locally-minded customers, those who prefer to support businesses that not only cater to local needs but also help to directly improve the area’s economy. Small businesses, those retailers that either seek to rival national brands or create a niche that isn’t yet being met, bring about huge benefits for local employment and GDP, as well as bringing a presence to the high street that, importantly, cannot be found elsewhere.
As seen during the initial pandemic-related lockdowns, locally-minded retailers are able to find great success and support when catering their store’s services and products to the changeable demands of nearby and regular customer demographics, more so than the rigid models of widespread retail chains.
Good For The Employees
One of the benefits of large businesses has been the number of employment opportunities that they, as a retailer, can offer to the local area. However, as a new swathe of challenges now faces employees, especially with duty of care changes, high street employers are being expected to accommodate accordingly.
Alongside this, employee preference trends are aligned with customers and many people are seeking to work for businesses that they feel have a better ethical reputation, one that both supports a better professional venture but that they can feel proud of working for personally