New Year’s Resolutions: The Open Opportunity for Retailers to Demonstrate Brand Generosity
Let’s face it: The holidays were stressful, involving significant amounts of both travel and planning — whether that be for the aforementioned travel or for shopping, gifting, entertaining or giving thanks. But add to that list one more item imparting more than its fair share of stress this year: the rising cost of living. That is, the fact that everyday items now cost more than ever, meaning our dollars aren’t going nearly as far as they once did. And although the holidays have come and gone by now, the cost-of-living situation is likely to linger.
Which means there’s room to help. And brands are uniquely poised to do just that, perfectly positioned to give back to the very consumers they’ve come to know so well.
An Accountability- and Service-First Mindset
What does it mean to give back as a brand in today’s age? What does generosity of brand actually look like in practical terms? What are brands proactively doing this time of year beyond selling? How are they giving back to the communities of consumers they claim to cater to and care for?
Brands must recognize and own the fact that they must (consistently) be at the service of their customers by putting them at the heart of everything they do. Sounds easy, but how many brands live and breathe this as a priority? Giving back is more than likely on the list, but where on that list does it sit?
The latest YouGov data told us that half of folks spent less on Christmas this year due to the rising cost of living happening globally.
Let’s say that again, with added context. Less spending due to rising costs. Which — if you consider it for what it is — also suggests that people are open to receiving more, or rather, in need of more. Both more for what they’re already paying for or are unable to pay.
Listen, Observe and Echo Back. The Demand for Pre-Loved Retail is on the Rise
When it comes to brand generosity, the opportunities are as endless as they are necessary. And yet, how many brands today are engaging with communities to understand what they need most this time of year? How many are offering trade-ins and repairs on their tech and apparel for existing customers? How many are boosting loyalty schemes to help stretch consumers’ dollars? How many are asking to collect second-hand, recycled and returned items which they can then push back into these same communities and possibly engage with individuals as future customers?
It doesn’t matter what you call it, but there’s a genuine market for “pre-loved” these days and that means that brands have an earnest responsibility to engage with younger consumers, especially to better understand why this is the case and how they can reflect this desire back. For Gen Z and Gen Alpha, pre-loved is the preferred way to shop — both out of desire and necessity. So how are retailers demonstrating they’ve heard them? By investing in second-hand and second-chance initiatives?
Too few. I could count them on one hand. And it’s completely fixable.
Madewell asked customers to turn in used denim in exchange for a 30 percent discount on new denim this past fall. However, I’ve heard from colleagues that the brand never followed up to receive the denim or provided guidance on how to return the old denim. Then there’s Patagonia, everybody’s favorite purpose brand which offers store credit on your worn wear in order to resell it. Ikea’s buy-back and resell program launched in 2022 in an effort to help used Ikea products find new homes and new owners, but it’s not clear just how widespread the program is and it’s 2024.
A partial miss for some, a complete miss for others.
And don’t get me started about the whole treasure trove of videos on Instagram right now showing people dumpster diving for damaged and returned goods at dozens of prime U.S. retailers, coast-to-coast. Discarding the former makes sense — no one is suggesting you donate broken, unusable items — but what about the latter? It’s 2024. Why is trashing something still the MO for so many retailers?
It's a mindset issue. Which again, means it’s also fixable.
My call to action is this: Retailers, please adjust your mindset to consider how you can better give back to consumers and their communities. Look for ways to give more, while also embracing pre-loved and “new to you” concepts.
Stephen Haggarty is executive partner at Yonder, a consultancy that helps clients to unlock opportunity and deliver business impact.
Stephen is an executive partner at Yonder with a background in Creative. Building on solid foundations, his role is to strengthen and grow the 1Y offer, particularly in the hospitality, travel, leisure, and fashion sectors at Yonder. He is also developing and growing the creative team around a vision and culture based on digital, ecological, and human tech-focused innovations. Born digital but not at the expense of art and craft. It’s what we call #ContinuousEvolution.
His background is in global marketing, global branding, strategy, retail, and brand experience agencies, these include: Clear M&CSaatchi, HuntHaggarty, EnterpriseIG (Design Bridge and Partners), and Fitch (Landor+Fitch) working across many sectors on global branding assignments such as… Healthcode, Lyca Group, Gain Capital, Olympia, Forex, PizzaExpress, Rothschild, Asahi, Telenor, Under Armour, The FA, Wagamama, Unilever, Disney, New Look, Prudential, M&S, Nestlé, Mars Wrigley, Diageo, Bacardi, Premiership Rugby, Intel, Dell, Motorola, Levis &Co, adidas, Sunspel, UOB Singapore.