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Majority of younger shoppers will choose a sustainable retailer over a less sustainable one, research shows

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A majority of consumers (51%) aged between 16 and 34 would be more likely to shop with a retailer that has made consistent efforts to be sustainable over one that has not.

So finds research commissioned by retail technology expert Conversity, and which underlines a gradual evolution in consumer consciousness where people are embracing more responsible shopping. This represents an opportunity for retailers to step up their personalisation efforts to meet this demand.

The survey, which was carried out by Censuswide and polled 1,000 consumers, found that 52% of those aged 16-24 are likely to choose a sustainable retailer, with this figure sitting at 50% for 25-34s. Interestingly, 48% of those aged over 55 also expressed a preference for more sustainable options, which suggests that this shift in mindset is not limited purely to younger generations.

For Sarah Cameron, Director of Customer Experience  at Conversity, this illustrates how people are beginning to realise the possible environmental impact of a ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ philosophy and are considering their purchases more carefully.

She says: “Mass movements, social media campaigns and high-profile influencers have  had a profound and positive impact on the consumer psyche when it comes to sustainability. People are now thinking much more deeply about the wider environmental footprint of the products they buy, and brands are starting to follow suit – the Make Friday Green Again collective being an example of this.”

Cameron adds: “In effect, consumers are adopting something of a ‘post-war’ mindset in that they are now making far more considered purchases. Retailers and brands should be looking to latch onto this, by better personalising their experiences to empower customers to have the confidence to buy what is right for them, and to reduce the likelihood of returns.”

The research also asked consumers what they would like to see retailers do to help them shop more sustainably. Clear labelling that details sustainable production methods was the most popular (37%), followed by a clear commitment to environmentally friendly returns processes (29%). While these may seem obvious, there were other areas cited where retailers can differentiate themselves.

Almost a quarter of respondents (24%) said that having knowledgeable staff to guide them to the right products in-store is important, and 18% said a similar online and in-store shopping experience is crucial (rising to 25% for 16-24s).

Cameron adds: “These figures highlight the importance of consistent advice and guidance across channels when it comes to sustainable shopping – something that can be achieved if in-store teams are empowered to provide a tailored service, and if companies deploy simple tech enablers online.”

She continues: “Technology such as intelligent guided selling (IGS) has a leading role to play here. By capturing insight on shopper needs in the moment, recommendation logic and elastic search is used to match product attributes, offering the best personalised recommendations. Consumers navigate through a plethora of product options quickly and easily and they have confidence in their purchase, which increases conversion and reduces the chance of returns. This helps organisations to emphasise their brand ethics and sustainability message around considered purchasing through personalisation.”

Cameron concludes: “In this growing era of responsible shopping, the recipe for success is simple: make choosing the right products easy and environmentally conscious consumers will remember you for it.”

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