Decarbonisation efforts, resale retail and the rise of the circular economy, packaging initiatives, sustainable fashion and materials, rent on runway, second hand clothing, solar panels on retail stores and distribution centers, electric trucks and ships, sustainability reporting, recycling and zero waste initiatives, sustainable supply chain initiatives, reusable shopping bags and dozens of other efforts.
The past two years has seen a big jump in efforts taken by international groups and government to enhance sustainable projects.
While it is easy to understand why, it is complicated to comprehend how the change will happen?
Surveys continue to show that 70% or more of consumers claim to include sustainability considerations when making purchasing decisions which is why sales sustainable offerings are increasing across the entire retail industry from grocery to fashion to furniture, electronics, appliances, personal care and more.
Most of the current work force is composed of Generation X and Millennials.
As Generation X begins thinking about retirement and millennials begin controlling more business decisions, sustainability will influence those decisions.
Generation Z is just entering its prime spending years with first homes and children on the horizon. Their sustainability interests affect where they choose to work and what they choose to buy.
Both younger generations expect that business will be driving sustainable solutions.
When smart phones became critical part of life instant access to any information about almost anything gave consumers power.
Further social media enabled consumers and employees to share information about anything and everything to almost anyone.
When someone is concerned about working conditions in a distant factory, animal welfare practices on a farm, hazardous ingredients in a product or concerns about climate change, they can voice those concerns to the world this is a big change.
In response to this type of forced transparency, some companies adopted voluntary transparency practices to highlight what they are doing to address or avoid consumer concerns.
Predictably, as both forced and voluntary transparency increases, expectations for even greater transparency also increase.
Consumers now expect that they can know who makes products, where and how they are made, what materials are used, what happens when they are no longer needed and the associated carbon footprint of the products they buy.
This has brought a big shift in manufacturing, retailing, and other aspects especially artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is an enabling technology that can further accelerate demand for greater transparency.
It is helping retailers spot consumer trends, predict supply chain disruptions, identify potential consumer or employee fraud, manage inventory, enhance product design and facilitate strategy development.
AI is also being used to predict and quantify sustainability impacts.
Rather than passively responding to buying opportunities from AI-powered retailers, consumers will be able to deploy their own AI-powered software to find specific products meeting their price, performance, availability and sustainability needs.
Consumer-controlled AI will enable consumers to ask more sophisticated sustainability questions and the resulting answers will create sustainability-inspired shifts in retail markets that we have not yet imagined.
This cycle will accelerate the sustainability-driven innovation flywheel as evolving generational expectations, increasing transparency and more powerful AI continue amplifying and accelerating the other trends.
We are yet to see a big surge in sustainable fashion and that is why retail and fashion brands are diving deep into the world of sustainable fashion.