Responding to a generation of consumers oversaturated with ‘stuff’, shrewd brands are tapping into the global growing desire for sustainable business practices and an upheaval of throwaway culture – with ‘loop-closing’ retail concepts anchored in repair, recycling and recommerce. See Active Flagships for more on hitting ‘peak stuff’.
Globally, 66% of millennials state they’re willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact (Nielsen, 2016). Meanwhile, 94% of Gen Z in China now say it's essential for brands to be sustainable and environmentally conscious (RTG Consulting Group, 2016).
- Apple Revamps: Dutch ‘refurbishment retailer’ Leapp specialises in revamping discarded Apple products, giving consumers the same product quality – including a new, non-Apple warranty – and level of in-store service but at a substantially lower price point. Originally a pure play e-tailer, in 2015 it ventured into physical retail to establish a more trusting brand-consumer relationship than when working solely in e-commerce. All 24 stores across the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany echo Apple’s formulaic store design – white interiors, products showcased on wood and white PVC plinths – and customers can test products pre-purchase.
- Baby-Clothing Rental: Danish brand Vigga offers a “circular subscription” of clothing for kids aged 0-2. Users sign up during pregnancy to receive an initial ‘newborn’ wardrobe bag of unisex and organic cotton clothing, which is ready for collection in-store a week before the baby’s due date. When the baby has outgrown the first consignment, those items are exchanged for the next size up. Customers select the new size via the website, and Vigga handles the shipment of deliveries and returns. All items are dry cleaned in an environmentally friendly way for the next baby. The service costs 359 Danish krone ($52) per month, with a minimum subscription period of three months and a maximum of 27 months.
The concept responds to the huge scale of global garment wastage. More than 12 million tons of used clothes end up in landfills or incinerators every year in the US (Smart, 2016), while Britain is predicted to see 235 million items of clothing head to landfill in 2017 (Oxfam & Sainsbury’s, 2017). Extending clothing’s life by just three months can reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by up to 10% (Wrap, 2016).
See also The Eco-Ethical Upsell, Kids’ Fashion: Recommerce Sites Boom and Membership & Tiered Retail.