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Shopper Trends|May 05, 2022

How 3 Big Retailers Link Sustainability to the New WELLness

For many shoppers, wellness doesn’t end with their minds and bodies; it extends to the entire planet – the air they breathe, the water they drink and the open spaces and oceans that surround them. Our research shows that more shoppers expect companies to accept more responsibility for sustainability. Here are examples of how Dick’s Sporting Goods, Situ and Walmart are embracing sustainability to support the shopper’s bigger definition of WELLness.

A “Greener” Store Can Sustain Loyalty and WELLness

A healthy earth makes for happier trips around the sun, and around the store. And that can make for healthier shopper engagement. Because retailers and brands that adopt effective sustainability practices also improve something of super-high value: overall WELLness, for all.

This matters a lot today, because shoppers have told us they now expect retailers and brands to play more proactive roles in global sustainability. In the shopper’s mind, sustainability is an extension of WELLness. Think products that minimize the carbon footprint and are ethically sourced – these features, just like organics and healthy ingredients, rank high among shopper priorities.

Our How America Shops® research connects the dots between these values clearly.

  • WELLness matters more today than a year ago. 94% of shoppers told us they know more about staying well today than a year ago, and more than half want to be more proactive about keeping themselves healthy. (To some extent we can credit the Covid-19 pandemic with making people more aware of how to live healthy.)
  • Sustainability and WELLness rank equally in “pay more for” status. 42% of shoppers will pay more for brands that are natural or clean, and an equal percentage will pay more for brands that support sustainability.
  • Shoppers think the corporations they buy from are responsible for sustainability. 52% of shoppers believe large corporations need to offer more products that are better for the environment. As one 31-year-old told us: “Every individual on earth could do everything perfectly, but we still wouldn't make a real difference, because the people that need to do something are Exxon Mobil, BP and all the car companies.”
  • Yet finding “better for you” products is a challenge. Just one-third of shoppers told us they can easily find products that support their values in the stores they shop. And 40% want retailers to showcase products that support sustainability and healthier choices.
  • So don’t just offer it and say it – prove it. Brands and retailers that aim to be sustainable have to back up their promises. Nearly 50% of shoppers told us they think terms such as “sustainable” and “environmentally safe” are marketing buzzwords. One 27-year-old shopper told us: “[Maybe] there needs to be an FTC regulation about when to use ‘sustainable’ in marketing terms. I feel like we should move away from that to something more descriptive.”

In the (Green) Field: On Safari® for Sustainability

The takeaway for retailers: YOU can be the solution to shoppers’ sustainability-as-WELLness pursuits, but you have to make it easy as well as affordable. For example, retailers need to showcase their better-for-all products so they are easy to find. 

We sent our WSL Retail Safari® scouts out to find examples of sustainability that promote shopper WELLness. They did not come back empty handed. Among the highlights:

  • Dick’s new Public Lands concept in Pittsburgh targets healthy, happy earth-shoppers with 50,000 square feet of recreational activities and a clear value proposition that links WELLness and sustainability. It makes its role as an earth-responsible merchant clear through targeted messaging (“Celebrate and protect public lands for all”), by carrying sustainable brands by local companies (and renting out goods, from coolers to snowboards), and by organizing healthy outdoor and indoor recreation, such as “upcycling” Valentine’s Day cards into roses.
  • In London, the immersive showroom Situ Live is in and of itself an act of sustainability because it eschews aisle upon aisle of products in favor of a limited inventory. Shoppers are encouraged to discover and try these goods out first, and (if they like something) buy via a digital QR code. Among the products to test: sustainable travel solutions such as electric scooters and bikes.
  • Walmart’s Time Well Spent incubator location in Arizona aims for healthier trips with a layout that encourages shoppers to spend more time touching and testing good-for-you products in immersive environments. And these goods are not hard to find: Display tables highlight select brands, such as Elemis, a British line on a path to becoming “the most sustainable luxury skin wellness brand.”

What these retail examples have in common is they are thinking beyond product and are promoting sustainability and WELLness as a service. And these services are, happily, two sides of one lucrative coin; one that can purchase loyalty in addition to good health for all.

Never forget: Earth-friendly trips make for feel-good shoppers. And feel-good shoppers will always be WELL with you.

If you’d like to read the values that matter to shoppers today, including those involving WELLness and sustainability, swing by our Shopper Insights page and see what it has to offer. To learn more about what we can do for your company through a Retail Safari®, visit us here

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