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

The 5 lessons from New York Climate Week to help us combat deforestation

No agreement in sight on EU budget

European Commission launches EU-wide public consultation on Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan

Why collective action is the key to saving our forests

Who may profit from the rise of the extreme right in the West?

Talent is worldwide. Opportunity is not. How can we redistribute it?

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

Who is culpable in the EU for Ukraine’s defection to Russia?

Obama turns the G20 summit into warmongering platform

Cash-strapped cities must look to private partners

“Let hope be the antidote to fear” – Today’s WHO briefing and other key Coronavirus updates, tips and tools

The world’s coastal cities are going under. Here’s how some are fighting back

Closure of borders: Civil Liberties Chair demands proportionality and coordination within the EU

Member States and Commission to work together to boost artificial intelligence “made in Europe”

EU allocates over €22 million to help Palestinians in need

How close is Eurozone to a new recession which may trigger formidable developments?

How fintech is setting Southeast Asia’s SMEs free

Eurozone: Despite anemic growth and shaky banks marks record trade surplus

Survivors of ISIL terror in Iraq want justice, not revenge, says head of UN investigation team

We need to talk: UN gears up for 75th anniversary with Global Conversations

Europe rethinking its severe austerity policies

World cannot be transformed without ‘ingenuity of the countries of the South’: UN Chief

The West and Russia accomplished the dismembering and the economic destruction of Ukraine

COVID-19: lessons from Italy on public-private healthcare procurement

3 technologies that could define the next decade of cybersecurity

4 steps for looking after our mental health during these unsettling times

Politics still matter in the US but not in Europe

It’s Trump’s anti-globalization and inward-looking rhetoric that perturbs GOP and US

Brexit: MEPs concerned over reported UK registration plans for EU27 citizens

A young doctor from Glasgow reports: in the UK refugees are left to rot

More children killed by unsafe water, than bullets, says UNICEF chief

Coronavirus – here’s the public health advice on how to protect yourself

Health spending set to outpace GDP growth to 2030

Everyone has ‘a moral imperative’ to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities, says UN chief

OECD warns global economy remains weak as subdued trade drags down growth

Eurozone officials play with people’s deposits and minds

The US reject EU proposal for prudential financial controls

A record number of people will need help worldwide during 2020: Global Humanitarian Overview

Global hunger is on the rise. These simple steps could help eradicate it

Deal on tightening the rules to stop terrorists from using homemade explosives

DR Congo elections: ‘Excessive use of force’ in campaign must be avoided, says Bachelet

It’s time to move: 5 ways we can upgrade our SDG navigation systems

Can free trade deliver cheaper renewable energy? Ask Mexico

India’s agro-food sector has made strong progress, but a new policy approach is needed to meet future challenges, says new report by OECD and ICRIER

As urbanisation grows, cities unveil sustainable development solutions on World Day

Sovereign wealth funds could increase equality in a post-COVID world

How migrants who send money home have become a global economic force

Online radio and news broadcasts: Parliament and Council reach deal

European Business Summit 2013: Where Business and Politics shape the future

Global Trade Identity can be the cornerstone of paperless trade

FROM THE FIELD: Changing world, changing families

ECB bets billions on Eurozone’s economic recovery

Global Leaders Take The Stage At MWC Shanghai 2019, in association with The European Sting

25 years on from landmark conference, millions of women and girls still in danger: UN deputy chief

New El Salvador law, a victory for forced displacement victims: UN refugee agency

How Big Food is responding to the alternative protein boom

How Eurozone consumers spend their income when they have one…

Health services for Syrian women caught up in war, foster safety and hope: UNFPA

270 million people are migrants, who send home a staggering $689 billion

UN chief welcomes ‘positive steps’ towards peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia

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