Traditionally, luxury goods seemed worth it to consumers because they were able to reap the prestige of owning a product from a popular big-name brand. However, this concept has been changed. With the development of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have grown increasingly aware of the environmental and community impact that luxury brands leave on the world. Instead, it seems like there has been a shift toward a more sustainable and eco-friendly visual merchandising mindset. The reason behind this shift is all about the recent hot topic — sustainability.
According to Mckinsey’s report, 67% of consumers consider the use of sustainable material when shopping with a brand. This consideration actually affects their purchasing desire; meanwhile, 63% think that promoting sustainability from the brand is also vital in deciding whether they want to purchase a product or not.
Therefore, we’ll certainly see some new practices, targets, and milestones in within the luxury industry to account for these new consumer concerns. The goal will be to achieve sustainability during and after COVID-19. For instance, there’s the Kering-led fashion pact and LVMH’s LIFE program. Even though the luxury sector represents a small number of customers, luxury brand initiatives are imperative in the consumer market. Based on all the efforts that luxury brands have made, let’s explore the various sustainable visual merchandising strategies that they’re using today to see what else we can do in the future.
Visual Merchandising Strategies
Visual merchandising is a practice of developing physical touchpoints to engage with shoppers and increase sales by designing and displaying goods with a brand story, clear features, and obvious benefits. The storytelling behind each visual merchandising is different, but there is always only one goal —
Impress and engage with shoppers.
Therefore, a sustainable visual merchandising strategy boosts the brand image and value, especially amongst consumers in generation Y and Z.
From the fabrication of garments to retail strategies, luxury brands strive to embrace sustainable luxury. It leads that future retail delivers an image of social status and embraces sustainability from the foundation. We can see existing practices from renewable energy and energy efficiency, to zero-waste manufacturing and a circular economy – all of which are used to reach sustainability. Future retail will evolve based on these strategies.
1. Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
We all know that electricity in stores is certainly critical, even though it is consumed rapidly. Electricity makes business possible because it keeps shops open and ensures like luxury consumables and perishables are kept in their pristine condition. During the NGO campaign RE100, Chanel announced that it would shift toward 100% renewable electricity across retail stores and runway shows by 2025. Apart from Chanel, other fashion industry brands such as Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Coty and the Estée Lauder Companies have made similar announcements. When more big brands join the campaign, it makes renewable electricity more accessible and applicable within the industry. From there, it reduces our dependency on fuels and lowers the cost of renewable energy.
On the other hand, energy efficiency is also a solution for luxury brands to create a sustainable development plan. When the location is restricted by using renewable energy, energy efficiency is an excellent means to go green. LVMH implemented LED lights in luxury stores to save their energy usage by 30%. Thus, this practice reduces the brands’ carbon footprints and adds extra value for sustainably-minded customers to purchase luxury goods.
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2. Zero Waste Management
When we hear zero-waste management, we all have an initial thought that it is difficult to apply in traditional visual merchandising. The norm in visual merchandising is that we adopt to create, use, and dispose. Nevertheless, to implement green visual merchandising practices, this concept is not feasible anymore. By cooperating with manufacturers in the visual merchandising industry, we can use natural materials or reclaimed materials for eco-friendly visual merchandising projects. The new approach will be cradle-to-cradle — we create, use, and reuse or compost.
Stella McCartney, the leading pioneer of sustainable fashion, created a sustainable store in London and adopted handmade, organic, and ethically-sourced materials, including reclaimed wood. The modern brand also embraces FSC woods in stores and offices. These are common materials that are used to develop window displays and fixtures in eco-friendly visual merchandising projects. Moreover, it can also become an attractive selling point for brands to increase customer loyalty. According to CGS’s 2019 Retail and Sustainability Survey, the second-highest reason for customers’ return is the brands’ sustainable practices. Hence, it makes sustainable luxury stores have a more significant role in luxury branding.
3. Circular Economy
The circular economy approach is prevalent in luxury goods production. We can see different capsules made from deadstock or sustainable fabrics introduced by Burberry, Hugo Boss, Gabriela Hearst, and other luxury brands. We have a similar approach for visual merchandising, but we have not taken the full advantages yet. We extend the life cycle of some display tools in window displays and use sustainable packaging. We define regular visual merchandising strategies and new visual merchandising strategies for the latest collections. However, we all know that once there are new collections, those tools can be disposable.
Therefore, in green visual merchandising projects, luxury brands start with the packaging first. Burberry planned to eliminate plastic packaging by 2025. With the concept of the circular economy, their new packaging made from coffee cups. It helps to decrease their environmental footprint for the brands and consumers together. Based on this concept, we should extend the fields of adopting sustainable visual merchandising. Should we change the shelf life of FSC woods and papers or even other biodegradable materials in the other visual merchandising projects, manufacturers, luxury brands, and consumers can shape the future retail together.
Overall, the luxury industry has adopted different sustainable strategies on products and retail interior design, including renewable energy and energy efficiency, zero waste management, and the circular economy. Still, on the path toward sustainability, we have a long way to go. For eco-friendly visual merchandising, there is a lot of room to improve, as well. Sustainable future retail does not only involve luxury brands; it also involves different stakeholder collaborations. Let’s build eco-friendly visual merchandising together from material handling first.
At TDF Asia, we offer flexible visual merchandising solutions in just 5 easy steps. Learn more about creating window displays, product displays, and fixtures for the luxury retail industry. Please do not hesitate to contact our project management team at email@example.com or give us a call at +852 2116 9583.