The National Retail Federation is the world’s largest retail trade association. According to their recent study on sustainability and trends, sustainability-driven innovation cycles will continue to evolve as we experience generational expectations, increased transparency is demanded, and more powerful AI continues to amplify and accelerate the other trends.
Surveys show that 70 percent or more of consumers claim to include sustainability considerations when making purchasing decisions. Sales of more sustainable offerings are increasing across the entire retail industry, from grocery to fashion to furniture, electronics, appliances, personal care, etc. Understanding the different groups and their particular focus on the private and public sectors will assist companies with driving sustainable strategies and quickly respond to their consumer's needs.
Demand for Transparency
Since the rise of smartphones and social media, some companies have adopted voluntary transparency practices to highlight what they are doing to address or avoid consumer concerns. Consumers now expect to know who manufacturers the products, where and how they are made, what materials are used, what happens when they are no longer needed, and the products' associated carbon footprint.
Emphasis on Technology
Artificial intelligence is an enabling technology that can further accelerate the demand for greater transparency. AI 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. The resulting answers will create sustainability-inspired shifts in retail markets that we have not yet imagined.
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