You’ve Got to Be Green to Be Seen: Tackling How We Talk About Sustainability in Retail

By Blackdog - about 2 years ago


Our impact on the environment is a hot topic right now, and for good reason. With increased awareness and a global push towards ‘doing better’, brands and businesses from all industries are moving sustainability up the agenda to appeal to consumers who are getting environmentally wiser by the generation.

And it’s clear that the majority of consumers are seeking more sustainable retail options, with 63% of consumers significantly changing to more sustainable shopping habits, and 85% claiming they have become ‘greener’ in their purchasing in recent years.

But it’s a chicken and egg situation. This attitude shift in shoppers demands action from brands, but similarly many shoppers will only be able to make more sustainable choices if the brands they already use make changes first. Particularly with the current cost of living, many consumers are juggling often conflicting priorities alongside environmental ethics, such as price and accessibility, and can only reasonably be expected to shop more sustainably when businesses make it easy for them to do so.

So it’s encouraging to see many brands making positive changes at an astonishing pace for the good of the environment as well as for their long-term business interests.

But there is a challenge, as some consumers believe brands are making claims using little more than buzzwords, with some having lost trust in the subject completely. So it’s vital that brands retain, or regain, the trust of their audience.

And once again, it all comes down to captivating.

Overcoming Consumer Doubt

Scepticism is one of the biggest challenges brands face when going green. And while accusations of greenwashing are sometimes little more than media fodder, British consumers are – rightly or wrongly – more than a little dubious about retailers’ efforts to go green.

A recent study found that despite consumers considering The Body Shop to be the most sustainable retailer, only 37% believe they are genuinely concerned about the environment. They had a similar opinion towards Lush, which was considered the second most sustainable retailer.

The solution, according to the report? Retailers must convince customers that their concerns are genuine by supporting them with visual causes and authentic messages.

When it comes to the environment, then, it appears actions don’t always speak louder than words. The sustainability changes you make are incredibly important, but so too is your brand’s messaging at every stage of the customer journey.

Taking action to make your brand or retail operation more sustainable is essential. We’re proud to work with clients who take their responsibility to the environment seriously. Royal Canin, for instance, has switched to a 100% sustainable fishing source. They are on track to being carbon neutral in a few years and will also have completely recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2025.
Tesco, another of our clients, has led the way in sustainability. They were the first UK retailer to ban plastic wet wipes and the first to use commercial electric articulated HGVs.
While these initiatives are excellent, a holistic strategy must also captivate consumers. It’s not just about maintaining trust, it’s also about understanding consumer shopping habits.

Sustainable Initiatives While Captivating Audiences

While two-thirds (67%) of UK consumers pay attention to brands’ sustainability efforts and a third search for more sustainable brands, less than one in five (17%) say it impacts where they shop.

If most consumers aren’t going to change where they shop but many still want to make more sustainable choices, in-store signposts, on-package messaging and other marketing initiatives are vital to guide consumers while also making the most of your sustainability efforts.


Tesco is a great example of how to do this effectively, and Blackdog is proud to have played a role in helping Tesco communicate its initiatives to customers. We developed an eye-catching colour-coded four Rs identity that tells shoppers about the store’s plans to Remove, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

It’s not just a branding exercise, however. Tesco has made its four Rs initiative prominent in stores through concepts like a soft plastics recycling stand and product packaging labels.

The result is a clear and authentic commitment to sustainability – one that consumers can see in action and across brand messaging.


Doing Our Bit to Go Greener at Blackdog

Here at Blackdog, we don’t just help retailers spread the word about their sustainability initiatives, we’re rolling up our sleeves and doing our bit for the environment too.

As we head back to the office, we’ve committed to remain working from home for two days a week to reduce our company’s carbon footprint and to cut down on emissions from commuting. And on the days our UK office is being used, we’re working towards our goal of receiving 100% of our electricity from renewable sources, as well as reviewing the materials we use for our printed goods by exploring the use of sustainable resources and working with suppliers who share the same vision.

On a smaller but no less important scale, on top of our commitment to recycling, we have also introduced plant-based dairy alternatives to our office kitchens and offer our visiting clients vegetarian-based company lunches to cut down on our consumption of animal products and thus contributing towards lower CO2 emissions.

We all have a responsibility to lower our impact on our environment, and we’d love to hear about the actions, big or small, your business has taken to be more environmentally conscious. In the very well-known words of one of our clients: every little helps!