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Did You Change Your Preferred Brand for Environmental Reasons?

Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), y Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) have published a new edition of Pulse of the Fashion Industry, a report that annually evaluates the social and environmental factors of the fashion industry in terms of Pulse Score (sustainability indicators used in the report).

Madrid, 20 August 2019. The awareness about social and environmental practices amongst consumers is growing. The new edition of the report Pulse of the Fashion Industry includes the findings based on large sample size survey conducted in five countries. More than a third of consumers surveyed claim to have changed their preferred brand for another due to issues related to responsible practices.

However, the data in this edition of the report reveals that sustainability is still far from being a key consideration in buying decisions. “Therefore, it is up to industry leaders to drive a impact on a larger scale and influence the perdecptions of consumers,” says Joan Sol, partner at Boston Consulting Group.

The data in the new edition of the report also reveals that the fashion industry’s rate of progress, in terms of sustainablity, has decreased by a third in 2018, slowing down an action that counteracts the damaging impact of the rapidly growing industry. Unless the current Pulse Score trend improves, fashion will continue to contribute to climate change, increasing the risk that the Paris Agreement objective, keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius for the rest of this century, will not be achieved.

The Pulse Score has risen four points in the new edition of the report, from 38 to 42 (out of 100). In last year’s edition it increased six points, consequently the speed of progress in the last year has decreased by a third.

Sustainability Progress is Insufficient to Fight the Growth of the Industry

As stated in the 2019 conclusions, the positive rate of chage does not coincide with the projected growth of the fashion industry. Estimates suggest that by 2030 the global clothing and footwear industry will have grown 81%, reaching 102 million tons, exerting an unprecendented pressure on natural resources. If the Pulse Score continues on its current trajectory, the gap between indutry production and the indicator score will contine to widen, and the damaging consequences of the growth of production will be even more difficult to overcome.

The Growth of the Pulse Score has Diminished by a Third in 2018

The report reveals that the fashion industry has made progress in its social and environmental performance in the last year, but at a slower pace than in previous years. The progress is primarily due to the rapid progress among brands that have taken the first steps on the path to sustainability and have implemented fundamental changes in their strategy, leadership and goal setting. In the mean time, progress, as reflected in the indicator, has slowed down within larger companies that must still figure out how to scale distruptive business models and take advantage of innovative technology. However, there are several large companies that have implemented promising sustainable practices that are not currently measured by the Pulse Score, so their impact has not yet been included in the score.

How to Pick up the Pace

According to the report, solving global challenges and developing new disruptive technology will lead to new ways of doing business. Governments and businesses have to collaborate also, and the investors must insist that their investees improve their social and environmental practices.

Morten Lehmann, director of sustainability at the Global Fashion Agenda says: “These lastest conclusions mark the huge need for the entire industry to unite to accelerate this change. However, some transformations will require cooperation between policy makers and stakeholders throughout the value chain.”

For his part, Sebastian Boger, partner at BCG, explains, “It is very encouraging to finally see a change in consumers’ feelings. Our research shows that sustainability is changing from being a secondary consideration to a fundamental decision. More than a third of consumers surveyed have already changed their preffered brand due to social or environmental reasons.”

Amina Razvi, chief executive of Sustainable Apparel Coalition, states: “In order to achieve the required change, we have to collaborate and establish commitments to put the harmful practices of our industry behind us. We need to scale our efforts to assess impact through a common framwork and increase improvements in the performance of sustainablity on a global level.”

Pulse of the Fashion Industry

Full Report

Digitally Native Brands

In recent years we have seen numerous examples of digitally native vertical brands: digitally native brands which are born, live, and grow on the internet, with a business model of lower risk, greater ease of launching and enhanced with proposals that engage digital consumers. These are brands such as Allbirds (shoes), Casper (mattresses), Away (suitcases), Glossier (cosmetics) or Claire (paintings). Brands of this sort are also present in Spain, with brands like Hawkers (sunglasses), Colvin (flowers), Marmot (mattresses) and Pompeii (shoes), among many others. Some of them are short-lived in nature or still far from the profitability, but as a whole, these types of brands are becoming ever more numerous and with a greater market presence. This is a generation of emerging brands that aren’t bound by sectors, although perhaps has more of a presence in the field of fashion and accessories. Disruptive companies, different, simplified and with a distinctive feature: they are born into the digital realm, with Instagram as their means to success (although not exclusively). But their digital character makes them unique in other factors: they focus on user experience, they offer a simplified range of products, they are presented with a careful mix of style and convenience and generally come with customer services and logistics. Some of them, over time, also cross over into the physical realm, opening stores -permanently or temporarily- to complete the brand experience. Branding Essentials in the 21st Century
Design, convenience, simplicity, user friendliness … the digitally native brands owe their success to the simplicity of their value propositions, which connect well with some consumers keen on practicality, accustomed to purchasing online who look for reasonable prices and good style, while also counting on the trendiness of exclusive and innovative brands.
Authenticity, proximity, credibility and exceptional customer service complete the characteristics of this brand type. Studying how it all works teaches us an abundance of key lessons; such a blueprint offers an authentic master class on managing communication and marketing in the 21st century.
Among the main takeways are strategic positioning, limited-time offering, excellent service, simplified buying process and authenticity in maintaining customer relationships, almost reaching a point of informality (in style) and combined with exceptional professionalism in service. These are a set of features that users value and reward with their purchase.
In fact, with these in place the consumer feels little to no sense of risk: they usually count on prices adjusted for quality products and an efficient and free return service, key to the success of e-commerce platforms. The next few months will likely bring us new names further enhancing the DNVB category, with brands launched to conquer new audiences and simplify the complicated world of digital sales, bringing with them experiences and practices rife with lessons on how to communicate successfully in today’s markets.

  Juan de los Ángeles Founder of C4E Consulting Services and Professor at the School of Communication of the University of Navarra

Millennials vs. Baby Boomers

When the children of your first classmates start arriving at the company, you may feel some contradictory sentiments. After remeniscing in your pleasant memories of the first professional steps you took, a bell goes off when you realize that those very children you saw years ago cuddled up in cradles, are now already here at the doorstep of your office.

At the same time that I faced this new realization, I noticed that Merco and Universum distributed two separate reports in which they call to attention how Spanish women face salary discrimination from the moment they step out of college. If a few seconds ago I was thinking about how time flew by, I’m now doubting if life will ever be the same …

I’m not willing to fall for claims spouted out from the Goya awards. With the exception of the three words that emerged in the heart and voice of the award-winning Jesús Vidal -Diversity, Equality and Visibility-, the concepts of equality suggested throughout the Goya gala were tiresome, if not vulgar.

We have put the feminist cause in the battle of the genders and the frontline is much more diverse. The authentic champion of the Goya and winner of its best film category, Champions, excites us by focusing on the integration of diverse peoples. As fewer and fewer people suffer from disabilities (because in many cases their opportunities end in the womb), the ones who do make it out deserve more visibility in society, work, film, etc…

Although it isn’t a completely new phenomenon, a new form of age discrimination is emerging: millennialls vs baby boomers. We really ought to assimilate with each other once and for all because surrounding ourselves with different people is more enriching than cloning homogenous environments. If not, companies will have to pay an even higher price than the one they continue to pay today from to the shortage of women in executive and managerial positions.

If juniors and seniors join forces, the result of their work will be more creative.  Professionals of all generations working together will bring more added value to a society, with an investment in the entirety from top to bottom of the demographic pyramid.

Some companies are exhibiting such bipolarity, removing seats in their in the board of directors from acclaimed professionals of extensive experience just because of their age. “You have to rejuvenate the company …”, says Generation X, born between 1965 and 1979 in unison with millennials of 1980 to 1999, as they send home the baby boomers of the late ‘40s to the mid ‘60s.

Excellence is to integrate women and men with equitable retribution at all levels, people with an extra chromosome more or less, people both young and old … In the midst of these paradoxes, it would be a blockbuster to wage the battle for diversity and inclusion to a greater extent.

 

 

by Asunción Velasco
Senior Manager of Internal Communication at PwC