Augsburg (May 21, 2021). On the back of Covid-19, the new Sustainable Natives are noticeably spurring a change in thinking pro-sustainability. Their changing behaviour in consumption, online shopping, travel, food and drink will continue to significantly change retail like travel and accommodation and make the supply chain mercilessly transparent. Tourism also lags behind because the CEO is asleep.
Fflur Roberts (photo), Global Head of Luxury Goods at international data analyst Euromonitor, will talk about this at the 4th HospitalityInside Think Tank (HITT) on 13/14 September. Here’s an appetizer.
Similar to the digital transformation, the rise of the new “sustainable natives” in luxury retail and hospitality has been on the horizon long before Covid-19. The change probably started five or six years ago, but only became very visible on the back of the virus’ wave, mainly through more sustainable consumption. When travel and shopping stopped, people had more time to think ….
Euromonitor can see from many different surveys around the world: More and more consumers are now paying attention to how brands treat people and the environment, forcing leaders, especially in the Western world, to think about their ways of making a profit.
Even before Covid-19, it was known that Millennials and Gen Z in particular do not base their consumption on pure price or quality, but also on personal and social values such as uniqueness, well-being and sustainability. During the crisis – with no physical shopping options and no fun & food – online retail and also takeaway business in restaurants went through the digital roof – “and we see that brands need to adapt to social inclusion and making the world a better place,” reads Fflur Roberts from her data. Young consumers are making choices to support change and expect the same from the businesses they shop, dine or stay at.
The new eco-evaluation
This new sustainable thinking would not even be possible without digital platforms. “We are seeing an eco-evaluation: demand for transparency is increasing and brands are testing ways to help consumers understand the climate impact of their purchases. L’Oréal brand Garnier is set to launch a digital tool and labelling scheme for sustainability in the UK that describes the carbon footprint of each product when the QR code is scanned.”
The anti-plastic movement, which was already underway before the crisis, is currently suffering a setback as single-use plastic is experiencing a resurgence simply due to the new hygiene protocols as well as the e-commerce boom. Over 50% of respondents in Euromonitor’s Voice of the Industry: Sustainability Survey saw protecting the environment as the most important sustainability issue in 2020.
In this context, anti-consumerism moves to the front. In future, “Green New Deal” initiatives will also require retailers, restaurateurs or hoteliers to consider the consequences of their business. Despite recent environmental commitments, 72% of health, beauty and apparel professionals surveyed believe their company needs to improve its sustainability initiatives.
“To achieve these ambitious goals, they need to combine investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and pollution control technologies with circular strategies such as resale platforms and refill stations,” says Fflur Roberts, describing the dimension of change.
Blockchain makes everything transparent
This brings the “circular economy” into focus, the sustainable economic cycle. The new consumers – especially in Asia – are already using digital tracking technologies like blockchain or others that make the whole supply chain visible in its sustainability. Beauty brands like Clarins and Weleda already own land to harvest their own ingredients.
The spiral continues: rising costs for the so-called “last mile” in the economic cycle are forcing retailers, foodservice providers and delivery platforms to expand new delivery and pick-up methods. In June 2020, US supermarket chain Walmart announced its partnership with online second-hand clothing brand ThredUp, which allows its customers to buy used items. Walmart thus entered the circular economy through resale.
The last mile ranges from (low tech) click-and-collect services, where consumers pick up items at central locations, to (high tech) robots that deliver products or meals to consumers’ homes. But it is still a minority, about a quarter of the world’s connected consumers, who want to make use of such services, says Euromonitor’s “Digital Consumer Survey”.
People Power creates pressure
A new “people power” is setting in: More and more consumers want to make a difference through their daily actions, rising from 45.1% in 2015 to 55.3% in 2020, joining forces to tackle the climate crisis, as demonstrated by the Tomorrow’s Air initiative launched during the pandemic. It brings together travellers and businesses to buy and remove carbon from the air.
Outlook: With overconsumption accelerating climate change, shifting to circular business models such as resell, reuse and second-hand platforms will become a key strategy in the transition to a net-zero economy, predicts Fflur Roberts.
Under the watchful eye of consumers, 86.1% of retailers plan to invest in the development and adoption of sustainable products (“Voice of the Industry Sustainability survey, 2020”). This speaks to the paradigm shift in consumer expectations for guilt-free consumption, with 60.3% of global consumers reducing their plastic consumption (“Lifestyles” survey, 2021).
Tourism lags behind because the CEO is asleep
The travel and tourism industry lags behind other industries such as retail in its planned sustainability investments. This is partly due to a lack of leadership from top management, with only 14.3% of CEOs in the industry leading sustainability initiatives, as well as the more complicated supply chain involving multiple stakeholders along the customer journey.
Sustainability will continue to drive purpose-driven innovation, from the electrification of mobility and the transition to renewable energy to carbon pricing and sequestration and ways to remove plastic from supply chains. Fflur Roberts: “The biggest disruptions are expected in delivery services like online retail, foodservice and travel.”
JOIN FFLUR ROBERTS, Global Head of Luxury Goods at Euromonitor, for the first day of the HospitalityInside Think Tank (HITT): on 13 September at 13.30 (CET), with new data and new aspects from consumer research.
Her HITT impulse in the headline: How is Customer Behaviour driving and shaping the Sustainability Agenda? The digital natives have turned into sustainable natives. For them digitalisation broadens and empowers their choice.
Fflur Robert’s vita can be found here.
The big topic of the HospitalityInside Think Tank 2021:
SUSTAINABILITY & DIGITALISATION: THE CHANGE DRIVERS.
The Decade of Action: How Sustainability leads the agenda, how Digitalisation enables it.
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HITT, the HospitalityInside Think Tank 2021 on 13/14 September in Munich,
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