Innovation That Matters

Next-generation trends 2022: Eco-consumption

Next Generation Trends

Below we explore the rise of ‘cyan shoppers’ and lifecycle luxury – and what they might mean for your business next year

The final part of our end-of-year series focuses on the trends and innovations around eco-consumption.

More than half (59 per cent) of shoppers are making it a priority to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle, according to a recent survey, with four in 10 more concerned about sustainability now than they were pre-COVID-19.

And while these findings illustrate the rise of eco-consumption when it comes to customer mindset, that’s only half the story. Consumers also strongly believe that retailers have a responsibility to the environment and communities in which they serve. According to the Retail Industry Leaders Association, 93 per cent of global consumers expect the brands they use to support local social and environmental issues. 

And shoppers are prepared to put their money where their mouths are – willing to pay more for sustainable products, including plant-based meat alternatives, beauty and personal care items, and dairy and dairy alternatives.

So how can brands and businesses make the most of these attitudes to provide sustainable options? Innovation is key, transforming ideas into actionable solutions.

Trend #1: Cyan shoppers

From rubbish-filled oceans to depleted forests, consumers have never been more aware of the world’s eco challenges. And it’s this wide-ranging environmental concern of ‘cyan shoppers’ (blue for the ocean and green for trees) that will increasingly drive their purchasing decisions.

“Today’s consumer is questioning all elements of their life – from how much carbon they use to travel, to whether their money is being invested ethically by the big banks,” reports The Grocer. “So, it’s unsurprising to learn that shoppers are actively seeking out environmentally friendly brands and closely analysing the eco-credentials of the products they buy.”

Innovations are being developed to help educate consumers on sustainability issues and help them shop with confidence.

The innovations:

Startup Hive’s online marketplace is a one-stop shop for conscious consumers. The company curates its products by only stocking goods with low impact ingredients, environmentally friendly packaging, a low-carbon footprint and a commitment to social good. Customers receive a full report at checkout that shows how their purchases made a positive impact in terms of recycling, fighting deforestation or causes that have been donated to.

A UK activist investment platform gives consumers a voice to push major companies for positive change. Users can buy shares in Coca-Cola, Apple and Amazon from Tulipshare, which the platform will then combine until it reaches the level required to gain voting rights as company shareholder (the equivalent of around €21,000 of equity in the US). The platform hopes it can use the collective voice of its investors to push on ESG topics.

In France, a tool enables companies to obtain a score measuring their environmental impact to help consumers become fully aware of the role of their lifestyle and purchases. Zei’s scoring takes into account environmental, social and governance criteria. The platform offers consumers eco-responsible alternatives in many areas, including food, lifestyle and wellbeing, fashion, energy, transport, and housing. Meanwhile businesses are offered a catalogue of more than 800 innovations and alternatives, from green electricity suppliers to waste recycling providers, all to boost their score.

Trend #2: Lifecycle luxury

Waste is at the heart of fashion. More than 35 per cent of all materials in the fashion supply chain end up as waste even before a garment or product has reached the consumer, and the industry contributes an estimated eight per cent of global carbon emissions.

Over the past few years, the ‘slow fashion’ movement has gained momentum by highlighting the entire lifecycle of a garment – from the ethical treatment of workers to reducing waste and pollution and repurposing what they own.

And now, luxury brands are taking the message to heart: “[As] creative people in fashion, [we] have to be responsible, because companies and enterprises should be responsible,” says Miu Miu founder, Miuccia Prada. “There’s a responsibility to your workers, about sustainability, about inclusivity. And not [just being] responsible, but contributing to change.”  

The innovations:

A luxury leather goods company is reducing fashion waste by offering lifetime maintenance on both its bags and other brands. Portuguese Ownever manufactures luxury leather bags with the slogan, ‘slow down, make better and be fair.’ The brand has always offered repairs on its own bags but recently began offering to repair bags from other brands as well, even suitcases. The company can change the colour, fix the handles, remove any mould, mend worn corners, eliminate leather stains, and more. 

The Italian, family-owned fabric house, Rubelli, has recently announced a new range of eco-friendly fabrics made entirely from natural materials. The fabric is a combination of co-viscose and an eco-polyamide made from castor bean extract. Founded in 1835, Rubelli is a leading luxury brand that partners with high-end fashion brands such as Armani.

Miu Miu has partnered with Levi’s to upcycle its denim. The Levi’s x Miu Miu collection reimagines classic Levi 501s and denim trucker jackets from the 1980s and 1990s as luxury pieces. The jackets are bejewelled with luxury additions such as diamanté embroidery, crystals and pearls, and are given new prices to match. The initiative promotes the concept of upcycling – where old products are given a new lease of life with a makeover. 

Trend #3: Simplified supply chains

Even before COVID-19, supply-chain disruption was not uncommon. Natural disasters and geopolitical shifts routinely caused rapid spikes in demand and impacted a supplier’s ability to keep up.

Now, however, post-pandemic and with increased global economic instability, can businesses afford to continue absorb lost revenue that comes from a supply chain stuck in the past? Innovators think not and are exploring ways to urgently update systems and processes for the rapidly changing world.

The innovations:

In Singapore, a logistics startup is using AI-powered predictive analysis to save retailers money by shortening trips and reducing emissions. Portcast gathers shipping data from numerous sources to track cargo movements, disruptive wind and weather elements and pandemic-related issues in order to predict where shipments might encounter difficulties. The company claims it can track more than 90 per cent of the world’s ocean trade, 35 per cent of air cargo and can forecast demand for 30,000 global trade routes. 

Berlin-based software company Choco, aims to reduce food waste by digitising the food supply chain. Used by restaurants and their suppliers, orders and chats with suppliers are compiled in one single app. Orders are then converted into the supplier’s format of choice – email, WhatsApp, text, fax, and direct ERP integration. The system enables operators to adapt to changing market conditions with greater efficiency around procurement processes, as well as reducing expenses.

A wooden cargo ship that uses both solar-generated electric power and traditional sails showcases a more sustainable future for shipping. Today, just 15 traditional cargo ships emit sulphur dioxide emissions equivalent to every car in the world combined. Currently a proof of concept, Sailcargo’s Ceiba is powered by renewable energy sources, including sun, electricity and wind. And while the ship is built of wood, Sailcargo plants more trees than it chops down, making the project carbon-negative overall.

Trend #4: Artivism

“Painting is not made to decorate apartments,” said Pablo Picasso in 1945, when asked about his most famous work, Guernica. “[Art] is an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy.”

Today, we might call Picasso an ‘artivist’ – an artistic activist, who used his platform to make a powerful political statement. It’s an area of increasing interest: what impact can art have on the world? And how can consumers harness it as a force for good?

Innovators are exploring these questions with creative ways that art could be used to benefit individuals, society and the planet.

The innovations:

A social entrepreneurship in Brussels collaborates with acclaimed artists and art foundations to drive an ‘Art for Social Impact’ premise. The Skateroom produces skateboards that double as works of art. Then, through its ‘5:25’ business model, it donates five per cent of the turnover, or 25 per cent of the profit from every sale—whichever number is greater—towards social projects around the world.

A carbon-neutral NFT platform that helps promote young artists offers an alternative to carbon-guzzling crypto platforms. Voice users will be able to mint NFTs at no cost and buyers can buy creations with a standard credit card, making it 65,000 times more energy-efficient than Bitcoin, and 17,000 times more than Ethereum. What makes the platform environmentally competitive is that it is powered through Delegated Proof of Stake, a blockchain network which demands fewer resources and is designed to be more sustainable and eco-friendly. 

A lamp that transforms data about local air quality into unique lighting patterns is highlighting the need to act on rising air pollution levels. The Canari lamp is made of brass, glass, and 3D-printed parts. It includes a microcontroller connected to real-time open data on pollution. This, in turn, controls a series of LEDs. When connected to the internet, the lamp uses public data to determine the air quality. The LEDs are then dimmed according to this data, with a dimmer light indicating more pollution.

Trend #5: Carbon accountability

Ahead of COP26, retailers were challenged by the UNFCC High-Level Climate Champions to ensure that 20 per cent of retail industry revenue is committed to net zero by 2023, and that the entire sector reaches net zero by 2050 at the latest. 

Retailers keen to adopt and adapt technologies that will help them achieve this goal are looking to innovations that will help them do so quickly.

The innovations:

In New Zealand, technology company CarbonClick has created a carbon-offsetting platform to provide fully traceable contributions to projects that support the work of reversing climate change. Rather than require every business to research, build and track its own programme, retailers can add a CarbonClick option to their checkout processes, enabling customers to decide how much of their purchases to offset. 

A new platform helps all types of food businesses, including manufacturers and restaurants, accurately track and improve their carbon usage. Foodsteps is designed to help food manufacturers and restaurants understand the environmental impact of food products, set recommendations for improvements and generate progress reports. Businesses can also download carbon labels directly from the Foodsteps platform to use on product packaging, menus and apps.

An Italian studio has redesigned its website to reduce its carbon footprint. A collaboration between Italian design duo Formafantasma and Italian agency Studio Blanco has launched a website that requires fewer carbon dioxide emissions to visit than most sites. The website now uses small images, basic typefaces and a logo created from standard Unicode symbols, all of which require less energy to load on computers and smartphones.

Words: Hannah Hudson

Enjoy this? Read the other parts in our series here:

Next-generation trends 2022: Regeneration and biodiversity
Next-generation trends 2022: Post-COVID-19 acceleration
Next-generation trends 2022: Ocean sustainability
Next-generation trends 2022: Cities and the built environment

Wondering what these trends mean for your business in the year ahead? Springwise provides world class intelligence, insights and horizon scanning for disrupted times and is powered by our global network of innovators.  Sign up to our free newsletters to receive our latest insights or email for further information.