Why Lifestyle Brands Need to Embrace Sustainability

Positive Luxury awards the Butterfly Mark, a unique interactive trust mark, to luxury lifestyle brands in recognition of their commitment to having a positive impact on people and our planet, providing people with wordless reassurance that a brand can be trusted.

Many luxury lifestyle brands recognise the need to implement responsible business practices, especially as the business case for sustainability has become more clear, delivering greater ROI for companies.

For some time now, brands have attempted to exhibit their commitment to social and environmental good by writing annual reports and presenting the information in a manner that is not easily understood by the average person. Today the business case for sustainability has moved from the boardroom to the streets. Although the word sustainability is unsexy and the concept difficult to understand, the concepts are driving consumer purchasing decisions.

In the past sustainability measures were not central to the brand DNA, however, we are seeing a paradigm shift towards to a more holistic approach.

The visionary leaders of today understand that making their products or services with minimum environmental impact and maximum positive societal impact is the only way to do business, both now and in the future. It is through these leaders that real and sustainable change will be effected.

The primary incentives for brands to incorporate responsible business practice into every aspect of their operations include the fact that retailers are starting to care about these issues and are asking questions about companies’ business practices. Secondly, it is important to implement such practices in order to attract and retain younger talent. Finally, and most importantly, many CEOs, the investment community and the financial markets are forcing businesses to address the challenges posed by the realities of natural resource scarcity and rapid urbanisation, just to name a few.

As the investment community continues to place value on innovative brands that are committed to sustainability, it becomes obvious that this type of investing can create a much needed societal and environmental change.

One of the insights presented in Positive Luxury’s 2016 Predictions report, states that investors are increasingly looking to ESG (environmental, social and governance) criteria to

evaluate their investments, with 71% of individual investors exhibiting an interest in sustainable investing.

Another important asset, if not the most important, to a business are their employees, and as the next generation enters the workforce they not only want to work for companies that produce great product, but they also want to know that the company has a purpose beyond profits. Many companies are using social media to engage with potential employees, so using technology to communicate brand values and key messages will become an increasingly important way to find the employees who embody the values of the company.

Attracting employees and consumers is one in the same, and so with social media allowing people to interact and build a relationship with their favourite brands, consumers are also more aware and increasingly choosing to purchase or engage with brands that demonstrate their values. However, with the rapid increase in our access to information, consumers become inundated with confusing and conflicting facts, which can then deter them from buying into a brand. This is why we created the Butterfly Mark; to help brands easily communicate their positive impact, at point of purchase/booking, and for people to immediately recognise the brands they can trust. Buying habits are changing and forward thinking businesses must respond to this.

However, it is not only the brands who can make a difference, retailers in particular have a responsibility to encourage their staff and their customers to make positive purchasing decisions. When you consider that people’s buying choices are often based on ease and convenience, retailers have an opportunity to have a positive influence concerning their customers’ buying habits, becoming part of the movement for change through their curation. In 2016, through their initiative, Buying Better, Selfridges began using their position as one of the leading retailers in the UK to inspire its people, partners and customers to respect the environment, buy responsibly and champion sustainable products that contribute to healthy and happy communities. It was initiated in order to make sustainability part of the buying conversation. Following a training programme led by the Centre of Sustainable Fashion, buyers must ensure brands meet self-regulated standards on ethical trade, promoting best practice and supporting new brands with a sustainable focus.

Responsible business practice is the business model of the 21st century, and companies that are prepared to think the unthinkable and act as a start-up by innovating, prototyping and testing with people and the planet at the heart of their ideas will reap the biggest rewards in future-proofing their business.

By Diana Verde Nieto – CEO and co-founder, Positive Luxury