The pandemic affected us all in 2020, and we adapted. Emerging habits accelerated, and how we behave, shop, and consume will never be the same. We have become much more conscious of the way we consume and dispose of everyday items, not to mention the countless impetus for this groundswell of support from socially and environmentally responsible voices that further encourage us to adapt to the “new normalcy.”
One thing we can be sure of is that most of us are emerging from the pandemic somewhat more mindful as consumers than we were before. Yet, the truth is that changing buyer habits is still a drop in the ocean. Real change happens when the world’s greatest industries and brands step up to the plate – but many of the actions they are focused on now are good-for-nothing or too late.
As for consumers, a new report found that shoppers had the opportunity to reflect and re-evaluate their spending habits during lockdowns. That led to a greater awareness of the environmental impact, with 37 percent of UK shoppers stating that they’re more conscious of the effect on the environment now than before the pandemic.
Promoting the “Buy Less, Choose Well” Habit
Adjusting to the new landscape may be challenging at first, but if businesses wish to provide an improved customer experience, then it’s an issue that must be tackled now.
Openness and transparency can help brands maintain healthy communication with their audiences and stay ahead of competitors. Shoppers are now paying considerably more attention to the processes that stores go through prior to delivery. The thing is, only 37 percent of consumers said they are satisfied with the communication that brands and online retailers provide on the environmental impact.
The purchasing process of how and where the products are sourced from is also an important aspect evaluated by conscious thrifters. More than 35 percent claim that when they make a purchase, the product has to originate from local and sustainable sources, while 56 percent of respondents prefer to purchase only if the products are delivered within their own state.
The changes that the pandemic has accelerated are here to stay. Thrifters are actively seeking brands and online platforms that stand by their green-minded credentials. Although the situation was unleashed upon them due to factors outside their power, it definitely served as a wake-up call for brands and consumers alike.
Conscious Brands Drive Conscious Consumerism
We know that thrifters are more conscious, knowledgeable, and conscientious when it comes to their spending habits. This habit is widely guided by how a product is made, where it is made, and the materials it’s made from.
Being a conscious brand means rethinking production, sourcing, and delivery methods – like paper, for example. Nobody wants their products all wrapped in plastics since they’re doing all they can to avoid it. Paper or cardboard packages are gaining attention from conscious brands and consumers alike. Being a conscious brand also means guaranteeing each product delivers on the mounting expectation for environmental, ethical, and naturally sourced goods.
What’s more, conscious thrifters are looking for a more meaningful connection with brands who care and prove it. Promoting conscious consumer habits demands proof of sustainability, ethicality, and natural sources.
Conscious buyers are more likely to purchase knowing they can make positive impacts during the buying process. Most of the time, this can be as simple as encouraging an ethical business.
A key driver behind this habit is the ability for buyers to involve personally in actions that contribute to global impact. If a brand has, as one of its goals, to drive change in a sector that resonates with the consumer, their purchase is then an immediate input to the shared cause.
How do other brands listen to their consumers?
It’s not that we should not praise fast fashion brands like H&M for making garments from recyclable and recycled materials or IKEA for launching recycling and buy-back systems. They do deserve some attention, after all – every action means something and can be seen as a step towards reaching a more sustainable future. However, it comes as no surprise that big brands are frequently showing up for “green-washing,” but these actions, as we’ve previously mentioned, are not enough or too late.
The “conscious thrifters” need a complete overhaul, from stern to stern, of how brands operate – no matter their size or scale. But to do so in a way that generates the most value means grounding sustainability in what the modern consumer needs and wants.
The thing is that most brands are missing the “right stage” by focusing on what shoppers are looking for right now: green packaging, 0 emissions, recycled materials, and basic employees’ rights. That’s the exact reason brands are still so far behind where they should and could be.
From a modern thrifter point of view, brands should be leading, not following. Instead of focusing on what consumers are focusing on today, they need to foresee what consumers will care about in five years or ten years from now.
They should also be using ethical banks – those are mostly connected to power from green energy resources, promoting sustainable production, and actively volunteering with charities. Of course, these actions may not be immediately noticeable among consumers, but once notices, they will be positively received.
Consumers are also looking at brands that achieve recognition through organizations they affiliate with, depending on the type of conscious consumerism they want to promote. Visual logos can also be sources of instant recognition that drive prompt customers to trust the response to environmental and social responsibility.
Brands must understand that they’re experiencing an important but inspiring crossroad where the businesses and online retailers that consider their impact on the environment will reap the benefits, and those that show indifference will be punished by consumers, waving their credit cards elsewhere. Brands genuinely caring for the environment, however, will be the ones with the brightest future.