With the explosion of eCommerce growth in recent years, it has created an unprecedented environmental impact. This impact, in addition to a growing generation of consumers which was once cast as being financially dependent teens, has caused a big shift for eCommerce brands. Brands from nearly every industry on earth are being affected by this shift in consumer expectations.
Generation Shift and Consumer Demand
Today, the largest generation by population worldwide are Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996. Millennials today are young adults in their 20s and 30s. They have careers, are raising kids, and live in their own homes. Not only have Millennials become the largest generation, they also have very different traits and motivations than other generational groups. Millennials are strongly committed and motivated by implementing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including equality, climate change, peace, justice, poverty, and prosperity.
Millennials are now the biggest population but really, how much money are they actually spending? According to a study by Accenture, they spend almost $600 billion every year and is expected to grow to $1.4 trillion by 2020.
With a motivation for climate change and their growing buying power, studies are showing that their money will go to brands that align with their own beliefs. In one survey, it found that 70% of Millennials say that a company’s environmental focus influences their purchase decisions.
Current and Future Leading Brands See Opportunity
Brands large and small are taking charge in this eco-conscious shift.
United By Blue started in 2010, with the goal of coupling product sales with environmental action. For every item sold, United By Blue removes 1 pound of trash from oceans and waterways.
Nike, a brand that is constantly tuned into consumer habit shifts, makes an entire line of sustainable products, including a basketball shoe made of “environmentally preferred materials,” which includes recycled polyester. Nike also uses renewable energy sources for their manufacturing. Nike has also pushed 650 of their contracted suppliers in 52 other countries to create environmental policies.
Patagonia is a private apparel brand and they have made it their corporate philosophy to be all about going green. They’ve built repair centers around the world with the focus on making their products last longer for their customers to reduce their carbon and waste footprint. In 2016, they pledged $10 million of their Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental groups dedicated to preserving and improving the planet.
Lush Cosmetics is an all-natural bath and body brand producing products from shampoos to bath bombs. Lush has made it a core part of their business and messaging to be eco-friendly. They create solid shampoo bars to reduce packaging waste and offering free products to customers who bring in empty product packaging to recycle. Their dedication to eco-conscious practices have resulted in becoming a wildly successful brand that other beauty brands lust after.
WeWOOD makes watches with sustainable wood on the outside. WeWOOD presents “a hybrid of technology and nature that’s both handsome and earth-friendly”. They also partner with different organizations including the American Forests and Trees for the Future for their reforestation efforts. Since 2011, WeWOOD has helped to plant over 600,000 trees around the world.
Shift Your eCommerce Brand
Major brands have taken notice and many smaller brands have started to transition. While the shift to eco-consciousness for brands began years ago, there is still plenty of businesses that have not taken steps to do so. This leaves opportunity for you. With an eco-conscious focus in your process and marketing, your brand still has access to a great marketplace advantage. Knowing Millennials, along with growing numbers in other generational groups, care deeply about buying from eco-conscious brands can lead to developing brand loyalty, so now is the time to shift.
It’s inevitable that all brands will need to incorporate some form of eco-consciousness into their products, process, and marketing. From clothing and coffee to cars and beauty products, more and more brands have embraced and established themselves as the leaders of businesses and preferred brands of this generation, and future ones to come.
Your eCommerce brand can start it’s transformation with small steps with
- Reducing non-recycled material in your packaging
- Offer green shipping solutions
- Improve your product descriptions which reduce returns
- Resell or reuse returned orders instead of destroying them
No company is able to shift completely overnight but it’s important to start somewhere. Begin with auditing and evaluating your process and products now for opportunities to make them more eco-conscious. As your company begins to make changes, let your current and potential consumers know through your marketing.
Make your initiatives known through all of your marketing including your website, digital ads, social media, newsletters, and even within your product packaging.
The key takeaway is, do not sit by and watch the eCommerce marketplace shift more and more to being eco-conscious while sitting by thinking your revenue today will be there tomorrow without any change in your focus.