Question: Does adding sustainability initiatives actually make that much of a difference when it comes to consumer values and opinion?

Answer: Yes. In fact, a recent study by KPMG LLP, the Big Four audit, tax and advisory firm suggests that consumers aged 18 and older really respect suspect social issues, sustainability practices and social issues.


Adding sustainability to your retail business initiatives may attract a healthy amount of new shoppers interested in the goods you’re selling. With Gen X and Y having a better understanding of their social and environmental impacts through smart consumerism, this type of thinking may actually gain both their attention and business.

“The survey of 1,000 adults, 18 years of age and older, taken from Nov. 7th – Nov 10th 2013 reveals that nearly 70 percent of consumers under age 30 consider social issues such as sustainability, human rights and fair trade before making a purchase,” reports CPA Practice Advisor, “This outspaces the less than 50 percent of consumers overall who feel the same way.”

Gen Y has had their shopping habits tracked

A report completed by Urban Land Institute (ULI) back in May showed that while Gen Y is significantly more tech-savvy than previous generations, they’re still making their way to stores to purchase goods and Consumer Goods Technology offered helpful ways for retailers to keep them coming in.

With Gen Y making up for more than 80 million shoppers, tracking their shopping habits and understanding their value in sustainable retail can certainly benefit business.

The findings of the ULI study showed 48 percent enjoyed the activity while 37 percent loved it. It also found that this generation dished out dollars rather generously and considered shopping both a form of entertainment and something that could be shared with friends and family.

So how do you attract Gen Y’s interest?

“Most lifestyle centers target older, affluent shoppers; to attract Gen Y, owners should focus on apparel brands favored by Gen Y, offer more choice in eateries and include specialties such as gym, salon, “green” grocer, bike shop, pet store and/or dog run and uniquely local offerings,” according to Consumer Goods Technology.

When it comes to putting their money down, this large group of consumers is looking for sustainability trends — they’re looking for retailers who identify in such a way.

Leading retailers and grocery chains have already been coming up with systems and methods of ranking sustainable products that will help consumers see what shade of green businesses wear. Things like environmental and social sustainability are being taken into consideration when deciding on suppliers for more and more businesses, suggests CPA.

If retailers are looking to attract a huge generation of business, sustainability initiatives should not only be made but followed through on — because, according to Gen Y, this sort of branding is both respected and attractive.

With Gen Y also being especially educated, post-secondary campuses are pushing for human rights and social issues. This type of conditioning affects the consumer habits — which retailers should take into consideration.


Image credit: Forsite Studio