In case you missed it, sustainability isn’t just a Whole Foods thing anymore. Look around, and you’ll quickly see that a majority of global brands are adjusting to match evolving consumer attitudes towards environmental and social justice. There’s a bit of a chicken and egg effect happening here, with some companies and consumers leading and others following, but the end result is the same: sustainability goals matter.
Enter the My Private Brands 2020 Sustainability Summit, which brings together retail executives, creatives leaders and sustainability influencers to discuss the challenges, trends and opportunities facing private brands around the world. The Sustainability Summit was virtual, of course, and, in keeping with the many pivotal events of 2020, it offered a timely perspective on the many ways that people, packaging and products are shaping the future of private brands.
The Summit focused on three topics: Sustainable Packaging, Ethical Sourcing and Authentic Marketing. Speakers included private label leaders from BJ’s Wholesale, Sobeys, Family Dollar and Boxed. While the discussions and round tables were largely focused on the grocery industry, the insight and lessons resonate across the retail spectrum. The key takeaways are:
- Sustainable Packaging, Ethical Sourcing and Authentic Marketing are the key benchmarks of sustainable brand strategy. They are equally important and interconnected. You can’t develop one without revealing opportunities in another.
- Sustainable strategy starts with defining what sustainability means to your brand. From there, you can manage expectations throughout your supply chain and communicate honestly with your consumers.
- Consumer awareness and expectations for sustainable packaging are growing. It’s time to get creative about how we transport products. Ask yourself why your packaging outlasts your product. What does that say about your product and your brand values?
- Sustainability is a responsibility, not a luxury. Even brands serving low-income communities are finding creative ways to bring sustainability to their shoppers.
- Marketing and social media are raising the bar for ethical sourcing. To have a successful approach to ethical and sustainable sourcing, you must prioritize empathy and experience.
As always, we like to focus on the good news and practical advice. Sustainability is here to stay (pun intended), but it needn’t cause a panic. When it comes to sustainability strategy for our clients, we consider it our obligation to know what’s relevant and to always be on the lookout for opportunities, obligations and obvious upgrades. Sometimes, evolution is the best approach, along with a little competition. Not all brands can afford revolution, nor should they.