Customers today are paying more attention to whether who they shop with is a responsible retailer – there’s been a seismic shift in how much shoppers take retailers’ ethics into consideration.

Many retailers today are building ethical and sustainable strategies into their DNA. Fashion brand TALA, for example, uses recycled and upcycled fibres to improve the sustainability of its clothing, and the company has placed immense focus on the ethics of its supply chain, only considering factories and suppliers that have transparent practices in price, labour and the environment.

This kind of approach is far from a gimmick and is becoming increasingly common among retailers. In part, it’s an encouraging sign of our progress as a society that wants to move closer to a positive future, where sustainability is at the forefront. But it’s also something that consumers are increasingly demanding from brands – to the point that, for many, it’s becoming a dealbreaker.

We commissioned research to form an in-depth understanding of emerging retail trends, picking out the high street and online shopping as distinct areas and focusing on five different generations. We’ve used this research to form the backbone of our report Rethinking Retail, which is available to download now. 

And one of the areas we looked at for the report was how much responsible retailing really matters to shoppers. We discovered that 62% of UK consumers say a retailer’s ethics are more important to them now, as a result of the pandemic.

In the current climate, shoppers’ pennies are being stretched further than ever – the cost-of-living crisis, with soaring inflation and ever-rising prices, means that customers are under increasing financial strain. But according to the report, shoppers are still considering how responsible the retailers are with whom they choose to shop. 

And of course, responsible retail has many faces – so which do shoppers most value, following an extremely tough last two or three years which has reset many people’s views of what really matters? 

Waste reduction practices (such as donating unsold items to charity rather than destroying them) was the area of responsibility shoppers cared most strongly about, prioritised by 81% of our sample. Retailers reducing their carbon footprint in-store and across supply chains was the second highest-scoring concern, voiced on average by 74% of our sample. 

Following on from this, consumers’ next two responsible priorities were ‘retailers actively supporting the local community’ (68%) and ‘trying to buy from shops/websites with fair pay and conditions’, at 61%.

To access more exclusive insights, download the full Rethinking Retail report via the button below, where you’ll find more about shoppers’ changing attitudes to the retail industry, along with insights into other key trends – such as how the events of the past two to three years have affected the UK’s shopping behaviours, and which technologies are must-haves to give shoppers the experiences they crave.

In total, 3,000 consumers were interviewed nationwide during the research, conducted by specialist retail research agency Opinium. The subjects were split by the five key purchasing generations: Gen Z (18-24), Millennials (25-40), Gen X (41-56), (Baby) Boomers (57-75) and those aged 76+. As well as focusing on those different generations, Opinium’s data scientists have taken the research a stage further and defined six distinct new shopper personas for retailers; they’ve done this by combining the report data with behavioural overlays on attitudinal biases, purchasing channel preferences and technology usage.

Written by

Andy McDonald

Andy McDonald

Andy McDonald is a Retail & Logistics industry-focused leader with an international perspective helping companies deliver on their strategic goals. With over 25 years of experience, Andy is regarded as a specialist in Digital Customer Engagement, Contact Centre Strategy and Customer Experience Analytics. Having an engineering background, Andy prides himself on remaining customer-focused while balancing technology and service-based investments on behalf of this clients.

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