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Building trust within your community

Consumers want to be eco-conscious and they want to help their local community

For many consumers, distrust is the default position. Take this from PayPal’s ‘Think Forward’ commerce report: 59% of consumers surveyed across 24 countries agree that ‘my tendency is to distrust until I see evidence that something is trustworthy’. And we’re not talking about a Conservative government here!

With greenwashing a very real problem, it’s increasingly difficult for busy consumers that want to shop according to their values to separate genuine claims from the PR clamour.

Brands cannot simply say they are doing good, they need to show it. When it comes to eco-promises and diversity and inclusion claims, accountability and transparency are the new gold standard. For purpose-driven shoppers, brands that back up social and sustainability promises with action will stand out.

By one estimation (e-Marketer 2021), global e-commerce will make up 22.3% of total retail sales by 2023. To meet consumers’ convenience demands, 99% of enterprise retailers from six major markets say they will offer same-day delivery within the next three years – 35% currently do. This growth will create more packaging waste and drive up the carbon footprint of deliveries.

Consumers who feel guilty about the negative impact their consumption has on the environment yet are unwilling to make major changes to be more environmentally friendly will look for brands to do the hard work for them. Balancing demands for convenience with sustainability requirements won’t be easy, but it will be necessary.

Packaging is a visible reminder of the impact of e-commerce. There’s a growing interest in reusable alternatives but, as with all sustainability initiatives, it needs to be a low-effort solution.

The brutal truth is that many low-impact retail models allow indulgence with less of the guilt, but it’s still facilitating consumption. The boldest retailers will stop enabling the cycle. That’s where small independents such as health food stores can be seen to be leading the way.

As it happens, around half of consumers across 22 of the countries surveyed say they are doing more to support local independents by buying more from them.

For conscientious consumers looking to reduce their footprint, shopping local is an easy and rewarding way to make value-led purchases. But the benefits of shopping locally goes beyond the planet – small businesses reinvest in communities at a higher rate than chains, create local jobs, and provide products better suited to neighbourhood needs. This recirculation has a positive multiplier effect that’s sustainable in more ways than one.

Greenwashing-weary consumers want brands to make ‘doing good’ as easy as possible by measuring and displaying impact. Backing up sustainability and ethics claims with evidence will allow eco claims to stand up – and stand out.

With packaging waste and speedy deliveries amplifying the tension between purpose and purchase, guilt-ridden shoppers increasingly expect brands to make every aspect of shopping online more sustainable. Balancing convenience and impact is a challenge for modern times.

Packaging is a visual symbol of a brands’ eco initiatives. Although shoppers are increasingly interested in reusable alternatives, these solutions must be fuss-free. Bold brands will stop enabling the guilt cycle and instead place enlightened restrictions on shoppers’ behaviour for the good of society and the planet.

Aware that the benefits of shopping local go beyond a reduced carbon footprint, and with the repercussions of the pandemic still being felt on many high streets, consumers want brands to help them give back to their communities. Small retailers could benefit from improved loyalty schemes; bigger brands might be able to help them level up. That could include group buying models (already popular in parts of Asia), which combine cost savings with inclusivity and visibility for local producers and makers.

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