We spoke with two e-commerce and consumer trends experts to get tips on how to sell sustainable products successfully online.
Rose Price, Buying Director at Ocado, and Caroline Holme, Senior Director at GlobeScan, sat down to give their best tips in a Fairtrade webinar earlier this year. We have crystallised their wisdom down to these top tips to help you sell authentically and successfully online.
1. Prove that you buy responsibly and sustainably – consumers will pay more for it
Caroline Holme, GlobeScan’s Senior Director, revealed that a huge 47% of consumers in the UK are willing to pay more for products and brands that are improving our society and environment. This is a record high, eight percentage points up from 2019.
Her takeaway was to be authentic. Research shows that customers see straight through brands acting inauthentically.
2. Be an ethical all-rounder, especially during a pandemic
Exclusive new research from GlobeScan showed that the number of people who reward ethical companies by buying their products has gone up significantly. Rose Price, Ocado’s Buying Director, revealed 83% of their customers describe sustainability as being really or very important in their grocery shopping.
But has the pandemic wiped environmental or poverty worries from shoppers’ minds?
In a word, no. Caroline busted the common myth that people have a limited reservoir of worrying. It’s just not the case. The pandemic hasn’t disrupted people’s concern for social and environmental issues. People are just as worried about climate change and poverty as before.
What’s more, Rose adds, Ocado shoppers say fair wages are as important as plastic and recyclable packaging in deciding if their grocery product is sustainable.
3. Profile the large group of consumers who want to shop sustainably, but haven’t acted yet
It’s very important to eradicate barriers to sale because of the attitude/behaviour gap, according to Caroline. 34% of consumers who would like to buy sustainably or responsibly haven’t yet followed through and purchased. So, why haven’t they acted?
1. Consumers want more support from government to make large scale impacts, for example in reducing plastics and packaging.
2. Consumers want more direction from brands about their ethical certifications. It needs to be easier to spot authentically sustainable products.
According to Caroline, one of the top barriers to buying Fairtrade products online, is not being able to find those products easily. More than two thirds of shoppers would like to more easily identify Fairtrade products online. Over half of the attendees at Fairtrade’s webinar said, ‘being visible online was more important than bricks and mortar shelf presence for maximising sales.’
So, how do you convince potential customers to choose your products and ensure they’re easy to find online?
4. Hold a trusted certification
One way to attract ethical customers is to certify your product with a certification that shoppers already trust and recognise. Shoppers say that certifications make it easier for them to shop ethically. This is particularly true online, where consumers need something easy to look out for and to recognise quickly.
GlobeScan looked at consumer trends across 15 countries and discovered the FAIRTRADE Mark remains the most trusted ethical mark. In the UK, trust levels have risen to 87%. Three in four consumers say Fairtrade makes it easier for them to decide if a product is ethically produced or not.
With two thirds of Ocado customers saying that it’s really important to include Fairtrade products in their shop, and with over a quarter of Ocado customers buying a Fairtrade product on a weekly basis, it’s a trend no ethical business can afford to ignore.
5. Make it easy for your customers to shop sustainably
Ocado were the first UK retailer to introduce a Fairtrade aisle, making it easier for shoppers to find Fairtrade products. Think of the rise of ‘free from’ aisles, Rose points out, it’s so much easier to find and buy these products now.
Rose wants to create an easy shopping experience that allows customers to shop following their overall ‘Fairtrade lifestyle’. Improving your online shopping offer is essential as the number of internet shoppers grows, with one in five UK consumers doing most, or all, of their grocery shopping online.
6. Put your ethical credentials front and centre online
Hot off the press survey results show that Fairtrade continues to be the best known ethical label. Over nine in ten people in the UK know the FAIRTRADE Mark, so it’s easy to become a trusted and recognisable brand online by showing the Mark clearly.
Rose advocates having the Mark on front of pack and ensuring the product picture used online shows that Mark clearly, it signals that this is a recognisable and sustainable product. For customers shopping on their mobiles, make your credentials visible, even on the thumbnail image.
She also recommends that your product has ‘Fairtrade’ as a search term in online listings, making your product easier to find.
The new GlobeScan results back this up with three quarters of consumers stating that they would have a more positive impression of a branded product if it carried the FAIRTRADE Mark.
7. Motivate your customers throughout the year
Fairtrade Fortnight is a hugely powerful moment for Fairtrade brands and takes place every spring. During Fairtrade Fortnight 2021, there were over 100 online events, nearly 100,000 virtual festival visitors and Fairtrade businesses reached an estimated audience of over 20 million.
Rose left us with one tip to remember: as a business don’t restrict yourself to just being active during Fairtrade Fortnight. She urges businesses to think creatively throughout the year, what more can we do? Farmers deserve to receive a fair price for their produce, how can we advocate more in the UK to make trade fair?