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August 27, 2021

The 50th Anniversary of Earth Day

On May 7, 2020, I posted a blog, Many Shades of Green: Attracting And Retaining Sustainability Buyers. It featured research conducted by management consultancy Kearney based on a survey of consumer attitudes toward sustainability. Greg Portell, lead partner in in Kearney’s global consumer practice, summed up the results of the survey:

“In the middle of a pandemic we see consumers telling us—loudly and clearly—that it’s
not enough to cut a check to an environmental organization or have some polished messaging
in the annual report. What’s important here is executing against those lofty positions in the form of very tactical solutions consumers will perceive as authentic during and after COVID-19. Consumers demand a lot more out of the companies they support.”

One Year Later

Since the Kearney survey last year, sustainability has grown into a ‘must do’ for retailers if they want to remain competitive by meeting consumers’ increasing demand for sustainable products and experiences.

According to Julie Guest, CEO at Bolder&Louder, a New York-based marketing agency, sustainability is a bottom-up trend championed by employees and customers.

“Sustainability is finally a hot button with business of all sizes—
not necessarily because it is the thing to do, but because
consumers are demanding it,” Guest explained.

Retailers such as Adidas and Patagonia, are heeding the call. Adidas recently launched a line of footwear and clothing, Parley, made from upcycled ocean plastic. They have also cut their energy usage in half by using waterless dyeing.


Patagonia introduced a program, Worn Wear, that allows customers the ability to repair and reuse clothing. They encourage customer’s to buy less and demand more by bucking the ‘fast fashion’ trend and producing long-wearing clothing. The message on their website reads:

We’re in the business to save our planet. We aim to use resources
we have—our voice, our business, and our community—to do something
about our climate crisis.

Customers who share these values wear their Patagonia products as a badge of honor.

AI-driven Customer Analytics Helps Retailers Deliver Sustainable Customer Experiences-
Steps to get started

The first step in engaging and building loyalty with socially conscious customers is to make a commitment to sustainability and transparency through strategies like the companies mentioned above have done.

The second step to is understand customer needs and beliefs and deliver experiences that support their values and broader goals. They need to break down data silos to fully leverage the value of all their data and turn that data into actions. To achieve this step, retailers need an agile. AI-driven data management and customer analytics platform that enables them to discover dynamic customer personas.

That’s because many retailers today still use traditional, static personas based on stereotypes that are no longer effective in a world where customer behaviors, needs and preferences change at record speed (whether caused by a pandemic or the latest Internet meme, it doesn’t matter).

To build lasting loyalty, retailers need data driven, automated persona discovery that spans customers’ physical and digital journeys. These new, dynamic personas can help identify “green or sustainability” buyers, but also help to subsegment them into dark green or light green, resource conservation, health, animal, or nature people.

The third step is to deliver memorable, personalized experiences that appeal to customers personal values and goals in the sustainability space based on the data you have mined and analyzed using sophisticated algorithms and large data sets to create dynamic customer personas.

Here are some brainstorming ideas to share with your teams:

  • What if every product you sold had a “sustainability” metric (based on how the product is sourced, how much energy it takes to manufacture, how recyclable it is, etc.) associated with it to help with their purchase decision?
  • What if you offered carbon offsets as part of the purchase price?
  • What if you offered sustainability awards to your suppliers, demonstrating you are aware that systemic changes are needed?
  • What if you donated to a specific segment’s—such as the nature lover—favorite green charity with every purchase, demonstrating you know them well enough to know what charities they want to support?

Delivering innovative, environmentally friendly customer experiences can turn a retailer from one vendor among many, competing on price and product, to giving consumers emotional reasons to stay loyal. By showing them how well you know them, and delivering added value in an area they value, you shift the relationship from transactional to trusted.  All this, while also doing the right thing by the environment.

Not all customer analytics software can help you segment your audiences by how green they are, but TCS offers a solution that can. Contact a TCS Digital Software & Solutions retail specialist today.

More Information About TCS Customer Intelligence & Insights™ for Retail

Overview Video- Click here to view.

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Kathleen Holm is Marketing Director of the TCS Digital Software & Solutions (DS&S) Group. She has more than 25 years of experience marketing technology software and services to enterprises worldwide. She leverages her extensive background in enterprise software technology to help organizations develop effective marketing strategies, create targeted messaging and positioning, and implement effective go-to-market plans to improve corporate performance. Prior to joining TCS, Kathleen was a Senior Principal of technical product marketing for Oracle Fusion Middleware where she was responsible for defining the marketing strategy based on industry maturity and customer trends. She also held positions at IBM including Market Manager for WebSphere Developer Programs, Market Manager for Tivoli Integrated Service Management and Tivoli Brand Specialist. Prior to joining IBM, Kathleen worked with four high-tech startups.

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