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Green is the new black

Lighting the way to sustainable retail

In-depth with…Marieke Eyskoot


A sustainability expert on a mission


Marieke Eyskoot is a Dutch sustainability expert, consultant and author of the DIT IS EEN GOEDE GIDS (This is a Good Guide) – a popular book about living sustainably. And she’s on a mission: to inspire people and organizations to rethink ‘business as usual’ and make changes that don’t just improve the health of the planet, but also their brand image and bottom line.

 

Marieke Eyskoot took some time to discuss sustainability with Philips Lighting. Eyskoot spoke of the inspiring ways retailers can meet customer demands while producing less waste. Find out why Eyskoot believes sustainability should be front of mind for retailers beyond demonstrating social responsibility.

Ultimately, sustainability in retail creates a powerful new brand story centered in social responsibility, economic equity and environmentalism.”

Marieke Eyskoot,

Sustainability expert

A radical switch in thinking


Eyskoot began by explaining how sustainable retailers are appreciated by customers, and how their honesty is rewarded with trust. “The retail sector is full of visionaries who have built sustainability and transparency into their DNA,” she says. “Standout fashion retailers Everlane, Filippa K and Honest by are great examples.”

 

What these brands have in common is that they have developed a code of ‘radical transparency’; consumers know exactly how and where their products are produced, and they respect it. Eyskoot acknowledges this is a radical switch in thinking – businesses are moving away from brand mythology towards brand transparency. “Lifting the veil of secrecy on the supply chain can really pay off by showcasing your brand as a beacon of sustainable practice, giving it a contemporary appeal and vibe,” she explains.

Towards a circular future with connected lighting
 

Eyskoot describes how retailers can make instant sustainability improvements without revamping their entire business model. “Take lighting,” she reasons. “Simply by switching to LEDs, retailers can reduce lighting energy use by up to 70%.”

 

LED lighting alone can deliver on sustainability targets. But moving to connected LED lighting can take retailers to another level. This can facilitate everything from daylight harvesting to scheduling, using just enough lighting to enhance product appeal, create mood or seasonal ambience. It can also provide data insights that help to identify further saving opportunities.

 

Lighting can also help retailers who are interested in adapting a new and more sustainable business model. Service models such as circular lighting, which includes everything from initial design through to end-of-life management, focus on reuse and recycling to ensure the greatest possible conservation of resources.

Amsterdam, schipol airport, circular lighting

Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport now uses circular lighting in Lounge 2. The airport only pays for the light needed, and Philips Lighting looks after installation, servicing, repairs and sustainability. The new installation uses 50% less energy and has a 75% longer lifetime.

Sustainable practice is best practice

Beyond lighting, Eyskoot successfully argues that everything from curating stock to choosing its packaging should prioritize sustainability, whether your business is fashion or food.

 

She cites efforts like those of French supermarket Intermarché. The chain successfully sold ‘ugly fruit and veggies’ – perfectly edible fresh produce with cosmetic flaws – by embracing a sustainability-focused advertising campaign. The result? Supermarket traffic increased by 24% and all stock sold out. “Simply by changing perceptions,” says Eyskoot, “retailers can attract a wider gamut of shoppers, and keep them loyal because the brand aligns with their thinking.”

 

Sustainable packaging is also a big opportunity area for retailers. Sustainable packaging developer BillerudKorsnäs reports that 72% of consumers globally are willing to pay more for products with packaging that brings sustainable benefits. “There are some great examples of imaginative thinking by retailers,” says Eyskoot, “Some allow customers to sell back store-branded bags, such as Marqt in the Netherlands and Ocado in the UK.

fashion retail, sustainable shopping, consumer loyalty
food, supermarket, sustainable shopping, consumer trends
Read the full in-depth discussion to discover more of Marieke Eyskoot’s insights – which cover everything from the role of the environmentally-minded modern consumer, to the importance and benefits of showing leadership in sustainability in the retail sphere.

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