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Ethical Retailers

Consumers are becoming more and more socially conscious of what they buy and consume. In fact Nielsen’s Global Corporate Citizenship Survey found that 46% of global consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society. This is particularly true of the younger generation with over half of those between 15 and 39 years old saying they were willing to pay extra for such items, compared with 37% of those over 40. We had a look at some well-known retailers and what they’re doing to attract ethical shoppers:

Whole Foods

Whole Foods are using the latest shopper marketing technology in truly innovative ways to substantially up their game and attract a younger audience. This is seen specifically in their Alpharetta, Georgia store where a digital mirror encourages shoppers to strike three different poses, which trigger images of recommended health products like vitamins and protein shakes. In the same store they have introduced a screen in the in-store café that runs an Instagram feed showing produce still growing in the fields of six local farms that supply the store.

Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer recently unveiled their new look eco store in Newcastle, a transformation that forms part of the retailers Plan A eco and ethical initiative ‘to become the worlds most sustainable retailer.


Eco features include a 547ft ‘green living wall’ which includes 16,000 plants. Aside from providing insulation to the building, the wall also encourages biodiversity by offering a source of nectar for butterflies and bees, as well as seeds for birds. There is also a rooftop rainwater harvesting system that will irrigate the wall. In-store energy saving features include a LED lighting in refrigeration display cases and a heat pump installed to reclaim the waste heat generated – this heat is then distributed to cooler areas of the store such as the food hall. This combined with intelligent door sensors will help to improve store energy efficiency by 20%.


This year ethical retailer Lush was named the best high street brand for the second year in a row according to Which?’s annual retailer survey. The company also launched their first retail app which enables shoppers to shop for products based on your favourite scent or the mood you want to create. Users are able to browse products inspired by these vibes and are met with information on the provenance and benefits of each cosmetic, as well as detailed product information on the fresh ingredients that make up Lush’s product range.


In store the retailer relies on the power of scent marketing, as consumers are hit by a fragrant wave of cleanliness. There are live product demonstrations, ‘try before you buy’ promotions and sample size bottles also enable shoppers to experiment with the Lush range without a significant financial outlay initially.

The Body Shop

It is easy to forget, in these more eco-conscious times, just how ground-breaking The Body Shop was when it opened its doors for the first time. All-natural, ethically produced ingredients, with no animal testing, for every single product. The brand’s core values are still based around nature and social responsibility but need to voice these louder than before due to higher competition in the market. The company chose to reinforce their message to shoppers with these living walls that were cleverly positioned both inside and outside of the store, guaranteeing attention from passers-by. The hersbs designed as a world map, with each country planted up with its corresponding native herb that features in The Body Shop’s products


The Body Shop Pulse Store’s that were rolled out in 2012 saw a complete revamp of the retail setting. In place of product stands, antique-style wooden carts now greet shoppers at the entrance, while blackboards with handwritten chalk messages advertise the latest offers instead of plastic signs; other new additions include bulletin boards, which hang on walls outlining campaign and community news, and interactive twin tables that take centre stage on the shop floor.

Pulse store at Ambience Mall, Gurgaon

The Pulse stores have a greater focus on in-store customer experience and beauty expertise. The POS displays are used to educate customers in the story behind the ingredients and The Body Shop’s commitments and brand partnerships.


Holland and Barrett

Earlier this year, Holland and Barrett expanded its retail offering with the launch of its first ‘Free From’ concept store Holland & Barrett More.Having already established themselves a customer base for vegetarian food, Holland and Barrett now want shoppers to come to them to buy allergy free products. Their new store is three times larger than a regular Holland & Barrett outlet and aims to offer consumers a complete shopping experience. Features a vegan café, juice shop, natural nail bar and nutritionist’s consultation area. Also, a first for Holland and Barrett, More stocks fresh fruit and vegetables – enabling shoppers to potentially carry out their whole weekly shop in the store.



In an attempt to attract a younger consumer, the retailer has installed a Tweet Totem in More that displays Twitter messages. They’ve also included more theatrical elements such as iPads and an interactive vitamin station.Should the new store prove popular, Holland & Barrett will look to open a further 49 Move stores as suitably sized properties become available.


Waitrose recently became the first retailer to join forces with the Fairtrade Foundation, a partnership that will see the two organisations working together to increase the social and economic impact of supply networks. Fairtrade will helps design and evaluate projects under the Waitrose Foundation scheme and its involvement is flagged beside relevant items in stores to advise shoppers.

wre WRE2


The IKEA Groups People & Planet Positive strategy is an integrated part of the IKEA Group long-term growth direction and builds on the Company’s long history of working with sustainability with clear goals and actions outlined. The company also have an internal tool to measure the sustainability of each product it sells based on a series of 11 metrics.


They are the first major global retailer to offer a 100% LED lighting range and the company are currently developing a new line of furniture made entirely out of paper, due to launch in May 2017. The new sofas, chairs, tables, bookshelves and stools will be made from a composite of repurposed pulp, and the company has developed a process for pressure – moulding paper into hyper-resilient forms.



This year Co-operative Food stores were named as the country’s most ethical retailer. Since launching the first own-label Fairtrade mark wine in the UK more than 10 years ago, it has led the field and now sells 52.5% of all Fairtrade wine sold in the UK, making it the country’s market leader in this area. The sales of Fairtrade wine have funded projects such as the construction of a secondary school for 315 pupils in Tilimuqui, a wine-growing municipality in north-western Argentina. On top of this the retailer has reduced its carbon footprint by more than 36% in the past year by increasing the volume of wine bottled in the UK and switching to a lighter weight glass bottle for many selected lines. The move has saved 4,222 tonnes of CO2 emissions – the equivalent to the electricity needs of 18,759 households for a year.