Sustainability at retail can be perceived as being illogical if not contradictory. Because according to logic, if the purpose of retail is about promoting only purchase and thereby consumption, then it runs counter to sustainability principles such as reduce, recycle and re-use. But retail in its broadest sense is not just about stores. It also refers to having a physical, local or direct to community business presence (i.e. a bank or post-office would qualify as retail). But in order to bring the concept of “sustainability” out beyond the niche and to the masses, we will need to transcend logic and find more ways to get people to care about life tomorrow – today.
“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” ― Albert Einstein
Tim Faveri of Tim Hortons will be at TSSS on May 17, 2012 (live and via webcast) click here for more details
Tim Hortons understands Corporate Social Responsibility. They are proud of their ‘Making a True DifferenceTM’ initiatives including Tim Horton Children’s Foundation, local programs such as Earn-a-Bike and Timbits Minor Sports, sponsorships of national sports leagues and local community programs, environmental events and their Coffee Partnership. They issue an annual Sustainability and Responsibility Report. Clearly, Tim Hortons knows how to talk the talk. But are they walking the walk of corporate social responsibility?
What is “retail?”
As a term it defines an industry. As a channel, it represents sales directly to consumers. From a physical standpoint, it refers to the place where brand to consumer sales transactions takes place (physical and/or virtual footprint). From a consumer standpoint, at its most basic level it is about sales and purchase. And if executed properly, it can provide a consumer experience that is enriching, satisfying and enduring. However, for large-scale mass retailers especially in the U.S., the decline of consumer satisfaction with the in-store experience cannot be remedied with just more of the same tactics. Big-box, brick and mortar-based retailers must redefine the role of the physical store within the life of a consumer beyond just the “buy.”
According to John Ross former Home Depot CMO, “The Role the store is playing is changing…shoppers are waking up with a different set of expectations.”
I recently wrote an article Seven Sustainability Trends to Watch in 2012, where I opined that retailers (not government, consumers, or even “business in general”) are the driving force behind sustainability this year.
I was, therefore, pleased to read the recently-released Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) 2012 Retail Sustainability Report. Based on interviews with representatives from 20 different retail companies and 30 corporate sustainability reports from that sector, the report is an intriguing snapshot of the current priorities, challenges, and opportunities the retail sector faces.
You can download the entire report for free from the RILA website, and I promise that it is chock full of goodies to keep you thinking for a long while. But before you do that, I wanted to expound on one prediction that the report makes about the growth of sustainability within the industry over the next 5-10 years: