Now, more than ever, consumers are considering the social, economic and environmental impact of their shopping habits. Consumers are calling for more transparency and increased accountability from brands to make more informed purchasing decisions.
Why conscious consumption? The driving force for ethical shopping
Conscious consumers are invested in transparency. They are eager to learn about the materials used and the labor practices associated with production. This builds trust for shoppers and customer retention for brands. Fashion Revolution’s Consumer Survey Report shows that consumers demand that brands have sustainability certificates (80%) or ethical certificates (72%), publish their social and environmental policies (75%), and share detailed information about the environmental impacts of their products (78%) and about wages and working conditions of the people in their supply chain (70%).
The demand for sustainable products is especially high among younger generations — in particular Millennials and Gen Z. According to a study conducted by McKinsey in 2019, 76% of younger UK consumers are seriously concerned with environmental causes, while 54% of younger UK consumers are concerned about social causes. 9 in 10 Gen Z consumers believe that companies have a responsibility to address environmental and social issues.
What does “conscious consumption” look like?
The New York Times defines conscious consumption as “an umbrella term that simply means engaging in the economy with more awareness of how [your] consumption impacts society at large. Shopping sustainably, with the intent to preserve the environment is one way to consume more consciously.”
Reducing waste, reducing carbon footprints, using sustainable materials, producing organic or vegan products, renting, recycling and repairing (the three R’s of a Circular Economy) products or supporting different charities are more examples of conscious consumption.
Relevant criteria of conscious consumption?
While the demand for transparency from brands is growing and consumers are willing to shop more consciously, they often don’t know where to find equivalent products. As results from recent Rakuten Insight research show, 34% of UK consumers don’t even know where to find sustainable products.
To help make these products more identifiable, Rakuten has identified four criteria for conscious consumption.
These brands create products or operate in ways which minimize waste — employing reuse, sharing, repairing, refurbishment, re-manufacturing and recycling to create a circular system. This might involve selling reusable items, or manufacturing durable products that are guaranteed to last. This minimizes the use of resources and the creation of waste, pollution and carbon emissions.
In order to divert waste from landfills, these brands have systems in place to reduce — or reduce the impact of — waste from production or packaging. This includes recycling waste such as plastics, glass or paper, or using eco-packaging that is recyclable or compostable. Other eco-friendly brands include those that reduce their carbon impact by actively managing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions within their production or distribution processes, in order to take action against climate change.
Brands which ensure that their products are made from materials grown or farmed in ways that do not negatively impact the environment, e.g., loss of habitat, wildlife depletion or resource degradation. Organic products are made without or involve production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or genetic modification, as well as prioritizing the long-term well-being of the land, water and soil. Vegan products do not contain any ingredients derived from animals.
4. Gives Back
Conscious consumption also entails ethical purchasing decisions. By consciously deciding to purchase from a brand that supports charity work or communities, consumers can support causes such as community or youth development, education, arts, environment, nature and much more.
Club Rakuten is rewarding customers for shopping consciously
Club Rakuten members already benefit from a variety of perks, such as collecting Rakuten Points while shopping on Club Rakuten and the company’s partner sites. Those points can be redeemed for more shopping, watching blockbusters on Rakuten TV, reading ebooks or listening to audiobooks on Rakuten Kobo, or for making international calls with Rakuten Viber.
Rakuten aims to empower customers and fulfill their sustainable desires by expanding their sustainable brands category, including areas such as fashion, beauty, tech, food, health products and much more.
To make it as easy as possible for sustainable shoppers and Club Rakuten members, Rakuten has launched its own conscious shopping campaign, where many sustainable, circular and ethical brands — including TOMS, Dr. Martens, Free People, The Body Shop, Oxfam and Burt’s Bees — can be found at a glance.
And to make it even more rewarding to make better and more conscious decisions, consumers in Europe can earn double Rakuten Points and get a free eBook copy of The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells with Rakuten Kobo. Find out more here.