LONDON, United Kingdom — The ethical imperative of sustainable practices continues to impress upon consumers and brands collectively. By 2021, market research firm Nielsen predicts the US sustainability market will reach $150 billion in sales.
In a presentation at BoF’s Professional Summit on the rise of DTC brands and scaling responsibly, presenting partner Shopify Plus shared insights on sustainable practices that emerging DTC brands can action and incorporate into their businesses.
“This is a great opportunity for you to examine what decisions you can make now to prepare your business for what the future will look like and become a leader in this fast-growing space,” said Shimona Mehta, head of EMEA at Shopify Plus — Shopify’s enterprise commerce platform that empowers over 7,000 high-growth, high-volume brands including Allbirds, Ralph & Russo and Marchesa.
The talk commented on the restructuring of Mara Hoffman, Kotn’s emphasis on education, Allbirds’ collaborative sharing and Farfetch’s Second Life service. Mehta suggests that brands shouldn't spread themselves “too thin by creating a multi-pronged, sustainability manifesto. Start with what’s most relevant to you, where you feel your brand can move the needle or feel most passionate about.”
Consumers will remember the brands with an authentic purpose and the ones that made the world become a better place.
While demonstrating how these brands are seeking to manage their supply chains, Mehta also acknowledged the onus can fall on the retailer, sharing examples of Shopify’s own journey to becoming carbon neutral by decommissioning their carbon-producing data servers for Google Cloud, where Google matches 100 percent of the energy consumed by Google Cloud with renewable energy.
“Right now, more than ever, consumers are paying very close attention to their favourite brands and are open to replacing them when a more sustainable option comes around, as well as using their networks and platforms to tell the world about it,” said Mehta. “As the economy starts to open up again, consumers will remember the brands with an authentic purpose and the ones that made the world become a better place.”
To close the session, Mehta encouraged businesses to be open with their networks and even competitors, detailing a shared characteristic of today’s rising DTC brands being “their openness to collaborate and share their learnings. They understand that in order for the world to be more sustainable, they must actively be a part of the change they want to see. This means their sustainability missions are not rooted and protected within the walls of their companies — they are developed to share with others and help the world.”
Citing Allbirds and Adidas’ forthcoming collaboration with the goal to create a sneaker with the lowest ever carbon footprint, she added: “They’re changing the rules of competition and combining effort and strength to reach their sustainability goals — and they’re building their brands together.”