My previous article on sustainability (Sustainability: The time to lead by example is now!) concluded that “green imperatives will be intrinsically linked to every aspect of the business including brand love and loyalty”. Let’s dig a little deeper!
According to an October McKinsey report, current consumer behaviour largely reflects the Covid-19 crisis, with drivers such as shifting to value and essentials via digital channels as hygiene and touch-less technology play a major role in purchasing preference. Alongside, brand loyalty is in crisis as consumers are easily switching brands as value, quality, and brand purpose are becoming increasingly salient.
Next in line to the pragmatic now shoppers is Generation Alpha, the Millennials’ offspring, remarkably ethically-minded and value-driven. According to a 2019 report from Wunderman Thompson Commerce, 67% of 6 to 9 year-olds say that saving the planet will be the central mission of their careers in the future, largely joining forces with GenZ currently waging war.
GenAs will redefine terms such as Brand love and Brand loyalty, unwaveringly binding them to great expectations regarding sustainability 360 and brand transparency siding with company campaigns imbued with social justice, fairness and “green” consciousness. In describing the distinguishing characteristic of the new consumer base, Micha Kaufman at Forbes brilliantly pointed out that “The product itself is not important, only the experience that they contain”.
For now, some fashion brands are back to the drawing board, having dropped out of Spring 2021 collections altogether to re-strategize, while others are feverishly redesigning, reinventing, remodeling with recycled materials or even publishing sustainability declarations. So, what core changes are now imperative to cultivate Brand Loyalty? In the shifting constituencies’ eyes, the answer is simple: Sustainable brands with “green” principles. With the advent of the pandemic, hearts and minds have gradually shifted, which is apparent in the fashion industry.
Take a look at the Fashion Industry!
“This September’s London Fashion Week was a shadow of its former self”, as last September’s Vogue edition states, while “the unseemly, unsustainable excesses of the fashion circus have been brought to a screeching – and some would say, useful – halt” prefacing future consumer habits with the beginning of what is now known as the “end of ownership” trend.
The estimated 1.5 trillion fashion industry-behemoth produced approximately 100 billion clothing items annually, accounting for more than 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, as the United Nations Climate Change News states. Second, only to the oil industry, fashion is the largest polluter on a global scale, flashing reprehensible statistics.
Month by month, the pressure on the fashion tycoons increases in a pledge for assuming the responsibility to Re-Imagine, Reinvent- Re-make fashion in line with the ethical imperatives of the shifting consumer base, which has already adopted a more pragmatic outlook on shopping according to Paypal.
What happens next? From Loyalty to Advocacy
An opportunity arises! Customer retention, brand loyalty or expanding one’s consumer base seems no easy business nowadays. The new reality puts more pressure on firms and challenges their capability to adapt to the new demands for sustainable products and greener missions.
In return, consumers will be more than just brand loyal; they will turn to advocates. “Demonstrating shared values and helping the customer act sustainably enhances the emotional aspect of customer experience, and 72% of customers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people“, a study concludes.
The ability of businesses to align their brands and ethics with the consumer base’s values will determine their market shares. Upgrading their game is key to establishing long-term relationships that lead to loyalty and eventually to brand advocacy.