Here’s how retailers can encourage more sustainable behaviour

supermarkets shop

(David Veksler, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Shireen El Khatib, Chief Executive Officer, Shopping Malls, Majid Al Futtaim


  • Retailers have a unique opportunity to encourage positive behavioural change
  • The key is to make it easier for consumers to make better choices
  • The prize can be healthier and more sustainable lifestyles for all

The days when businesses could rest on their financial laurels alone are over. Today, being a good corporate citizen is as important as a solid balance sheet – if not more so.

This is because today’s customers will ‘vote with their feet’ and choose brands whose values align with their own.

Companies must demonstrate that they have purpose beyond profit, an unshakeable moral compass and a culture of environmental and social responsibility.

This extends all the way to the consumer, and presents retailers like us with a huge opportunity to provide our customers with the ethical options they seek. As retailers, we also have a unique opportunity to influence behaviour for the benefit of the wider society.

 

Small changes for good

We’re all creatures of habit. As much as we agree outwardly that we need to be more environmentally friendly or live more healthily, we don’t always find change easy.

As businesses, this opens a door for us to take our customers by the hand and guide them.

One way to do so is by demonstrating that small adjustments can make a big difference towards building more sustainable and responsible consumption patterns.

As retailers, we can entice people to be more environmentally responsible by offering discounts for reusable cups or loyalty points for recycling, for example.

One good example is Germany’s deposit return scheme for plastic bottles, which has reported a 98% success rate, with other countries following suit.

The same can be said for initiatives such as priority parking, charging stations for electric vehicles and solar panels on shopping malls.

It’s all about making it easy and appealing for people to adapt their well-entrenched habits, little by little.

Overcoming apathy

We are also in the unique position of being able to discourage certain behaviour patterns.

Take the dramatic reduction in the use of plastic bags where charges have been introduced. In the UK alone, carrier bag sales by the major supermarkets have dropped by 90% since the start of the charging scheme in October 2015.

Of course, there will always be some who forget their reusable bags or don’t get around to sorting their trash for recycling. However, by eliminating all single-use plastics across our entire ecosystem we can prompt those customers to act more responsibly.

What’s more, initiatives of this kind don’t just work on the end customer – they also encourage the entire supply chain to sharpen its environmental performance.

The reduction in plastic bag usage in the UK shows how targeted interventions can have a big impact
The reduction in plastic bag usage in the UK shows how targeted interventions can have a big impact
Image: The Guardian

Retailers can also play a role in reshaping individuals’ choices to encourage healthier lifestyles.

For example, the incidence of diabetes in the UAE is rising at a faster rate than in the whole Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and the wider world. Rapid economic growth, sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diets are all contributory factors to this modern lifestyle epidemic.

To address this, we are working with Smart Dubai to test use cases on healthy consumption patterns by leveraging anonymised and aggregated data that we collect from our daily sales at store level. By doing so, we will enable local health authorities to map lifestyle-related issues and plan targeted interventions accordingly; serious initiatives that are focused on the health and wellbeing of our customers.

Adding to targeted public health interventions, the data will help Dubai’s food retailers to make better food choices available in specific localities. Healthy food signage and displays, free sampling and coupons can then be used to point customers in the direction of more wholesome products.

Join the Voice for the Planet movement

Voice for the Planet is a global online action campaign calling for action on climate change.

Launched by the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community at Davos in 2019 and in partnership with the Netflix and World Wildlife Fund “Our Planet” series, it encourages people to make commitments to change the way they eat, embrace renewable energy, restore nature in their communities, change what they buy and ask their government leaders to act.

Add your voice here.

Inspiring better choices

In addition, we can also help tackle another contributor to the spread of lifestyle diseases – the lack of regular exercise. Due to the hot, humid climate in the MENA region, getting physical exercise like running or cycling can be a challenge.

With this in mind, some shopping malls are running exercise classes, both in dedicated studios and across their halls. You can do anything from power walking through the mall before opening hours in the morning to indoor cycling in an air-conditioned environment. One really has no excuse!

All of this goes to show that, as retailers, we have significant sway over what our customers think, feel and do. We can be catalysts of behavioural change to nurture healthier, more sustainable lifestyles. We will also be guided by them, responding to their preferences for greener products, clearer labelling or less packaging, for example.

This is a responsible business decision for retailers, because it reveals our purpose and the values we embrace – and sends an important signal to the growing number of customers who want to purchase exclusively from brands that share their principles.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

More funds needed to counter ‘persistent and multi-faceted humanitarian problems’ in Ethiopia

Commission publishes guidance on coronavirus-related humanitarian aid to Syria despite sanctions

Teamgum @ TheNextWeb 2014

A letter from Italy: Our insecurity in COVID-19 times

Companies that put employees first perform better

Vile act of torture prohibited ‘under all circumstances’, UN chief affirms on International Day to support victims

The power of partnership: joining forces to fight financial crime

Speak up for health care workers’ safety

Intervene, don’t overthink – the new mantra of systems design

8000 young people in the EP in Strasbourg: “a breath of fresh air for EU democracy”

This is what happened to CO2 emissions in the EU last year

From Israel’s ‘start-up nation’, 4 lessons in innovation

3.7 million lives could be saved by 2025 if health services ramp up nutrition actions: WHO

You can live up to 10 years longer by doing these 5 things

Statement by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría on the outcome of COP 25

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte: “Europe must listen to the people”

Integration of migrants: Commission launches a public consultation and call for an expert group on the views of migrants

European Youth Forum welcomes strong stance on human rights in State of the Union

Why rich countries are seeing more poverty

Quality of air in Bucharest-Romania: is it fog or is it smog?

Commission reaches agreement with collaborative economy platforms to publish key data on tourism accommodation

This is how we can feed the planet while saving the ocean

Genocide threat for Myanmar’s Rohingya greater than ever, investigators warn Human Rights Council

Mental health and suicide prevention

World Migratory Bird Day highlights deadly risks of plastic pollution

UN chief expresses solidarity with Indonesian authorities after flash floods kill dozens in Papua

‘Path to peace’ on Korean Peninsula only possible through diplomacy and full denuclearization: US tells Security Council

9 climate tipping points pushing Earth to the point of no return

EU Ombudsman investigates the European Commission

Humanitarian aid: €7 million for disaster preparedness in Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region

MEPs approve €585 million to support refugees from Syria

How can we make entrepreneurship serve the greater good?

Can the world take the risk of a new financial armageddon so that IMF doesn’t lose face towards Tsipras?

We need to build a quantum security coalition. Here’s why

A Sting Exclusive: “The challenge of Society’s digital transformation”, Spanish Minister of Spain for Industry, Energy and Tourism José Manuel Soria live from European Business Summit 2015

China’s lead in the global solar race – at a glance

How COVID-19 can be the Great Reset toward global sustainability

UN food agency begins ‘last resort’ partial withdrawal of aid to opposition-held Yemeni capital

The World Bank’s 2020 country classifications explained

Venezuela: Competing US, Russia resolutions fail to pass in Security Council

On Kristallnacht anniversary, UN chief urges renewed fight against ‘crime’ of anti-Semitism

The EU has to prove it can remain one piece

Politics needs to “Youth UP” in order the ensure the future of our democracies

5 reasons to protect mangrove forests for the future

States with power and influence to end suffering of Yemenis must take action ‘immediately’ – UN rights chief

COVID-19: Both WHO and Europe must learn from the current pandemic, say MEPs

Italy’s revised budget remains roughly unchanged waiting for Europe’s fury

Tropical Cyclone Idai affects 1.5 million across Mozambique and Malawi, as UN ramps up response

Germany rules the banking industry of Eurozone

Google strongly rejects EU antitrust charges and now gets ready for the worst to come

Labels for tyres: deal for greener and safer road transport

Why people with disabilities are your company’s untapped resource

The Fourth Industrial Revolution must not leave farming behind

Agreement on linking the emissions trading systems of the EU and Switzerland

Political solution ‘long overdue’ to protect the children of eastern Ukraine

Europe plans to send satellites into space to monitor CO2 emissions

UN General Assembly President upholds value of multilateralism in speech closing annual debate

‘Air bridge’ vaccination operation begins for Ebola-hit communities in DR Congo

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s