Sustainability Moves Up In The Agenda Of Retailers

Retailers are in a powerful position to make changes that drive sustainability across functions while enabling a profitable future

Retailers today are increasingly directing their strategies and investments toward pro-planet initiatives. They are keeping their best foot forward to re-evaluate the current sustainability credentials of their products so as to resonate better with consumers and eventually bring about a lasting positive impact. This is reflective in a Deloitte study which reveals how 55 per cent of consumers purchased a sustainable product/ service in the past 4 weeks. 

Indeed, the retail environment is undergoing an unprecedented transition, perhaps for a few years now. Especially in the context of sustainability, retail brands have witnessed an accelerated need post-pandemic to maintain a planet-first approach and limit the impact of climate change. It is evident how companies that have imbibed sustainable behaviour have stayed relevant and ahead of the curve.

We spoke with some of the leading retail brands in the country to understand their idea of sustainable living for better business & environmental outcomes. Harkirat Singh, MD, Aero Club shares how their raw materials, production processes, product packaging, product display etc have been eco-friendly. The brand also partners with like-minded brands & consumers to contribute to the conservation of snow leopards in the high Himalayas (Campaign ‘High On Himalayas’ with WWF) or provide clean drinking water to the far-flung villages (Campaign ‘WASH’ with UNICEF) or doing multiple ATL & BTL activities like cycling drives, plantation drives, using e-vehicles, installing solar panels et al.

One of the other brands committed to responsible business practices is Tata CLIQ Luxury. Its Business Head – Global Luxury, Gitanjali Saxena also asserts, "Apart from ensuring that every aspect of our packaging is sustainable, from the boxes to the tape used, we also introduced the Circular Packaging Programme. We recognise that reusing and repurposing packaging materials can help save several resources. Hence, through this programme, customers can return their empty packaging boxes after their purchase is received. By refurbishing these boxes, we use them for multiple orders, allowing us to recover, reuse, and reduce." 

Antara Kundu - Deputy General Manager - Asia South  Marketing, Brand & Customer Acquisition, The Body Shop advocates that brands cannot sit on the sidelines while our planet is in crisis. They have the ability and the responsibility to make real change." And while it’s certainly true that we are facing some extraordinary environmental crises, it’s also true that we can make small changes that have a big impact. All of us at The Body Shop India are on a simple mission - to encourage our customers to bring their plastic bottles back to our stores for recycling through our in-store Return Recycle Repeat Program."

From the consumer perspective as well, it wouldn't be wrong to say that the demand and purchase decisions today no longer only depend on the amount & quality of the product/ service but on the brand's environmental efforts and ethics too.

Abhishek Shah, Founder & CEO, Almo agrees that brands' pivot toward sustainability has become a major decision-making factor. "Brands exist to serve consumers and therefore it is imperative for us to listen to their demands. Our brand has sustainability at its core. From environment-friendly fabric sourcing to production & packaging, we have always ensured to stand firm on our values."

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