Latest Retail articles

Those bourgeois bohemians, and why they are good for business

22 November 2012 -

Parodied, mocked, and dismissed, the bourgeois bohemian is nonetheless a huge cultural force.  ”Bobos’” for short, these are the people who reject conspicuous consumption and mass consumerism in favor of all things local, organic, artisanal, handmade and authentic. As (slightly) exaggerated in the sketch comedy show Portlandia, these are the people who demand not only to know if their chicken was organic, but its breed, its personality, and its favorite color. The bobo’s rejection of mainstream capitalism, however, does not preclude them from spending lavishly on goods that match their ideals. The Williams and Sonoma chicken coop below, for instance, is € 1,000. Businesses big and small, new and existing, are serving the needs of this back-to-the-earth (but not too back) population.

While it’s easy to chuckle at bobos and their small-batch mayonnaise, the fact remains that these consumers are driving real change. Not only do they demand “realness” in products, they are also well-to-do and well-educated enough to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to advertising promises. Witness, for example, the uproarious backlash against Campbell’s instant Go soup, which was so blatantly marketed to food-truck-loving millennials that it inspired a scathing Gawker post and a segment on the Colbert Report.

No longer content to buy the hype, the bobo craves a connection to authentic goods and stories. Luckily for sustainable, fair, or otherwise unique businesses, from the local farm to the giant B corporation, this (relatively) new breed of consumer has opened more opportunities than ever before to translate “realness” into sales and brand awareness.

So how to target the bobo, the urban homesteader, and the DIY hipster? Companies can compete by offering what Mike Doherty of Fast Company calls real experiences, real products, and real access. Honest, transparent, and ‘good’ products must not merely help people in the business of living, but must also give shape and meaning to their lives. Compelling narratives play a large role in crafting this sense of realness.  An interesting back story, however, is nothing if it is not properly framed. Can your company trace back the wool in a sweater to a specific flock of sheep? Then do so. Do your employees pursue interesting second lives outside of their work? Then advertise it. Putting a human (or animal) face on your products will hold special appeal in a sea of cheap, disposable and undifferentiated consumer goods.

Is H&M the new home of ethical fashion?

8 May 2012 -

(Guardian) By Lucy Siegle

The world’s second largest clothing retailer is trying to remake itself as a greener option. Lucy Siegle reports from Stockholm

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Rio 2012: what can the fashion industry do to become more sustainable?

5 March 2012 -

(Guardian) By Ilaria Pasquinelli

With sustainability still not incorporated within the core strategy of most fashion retailers, change must happen, warns Ilaria Pasquinelli

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NIKE, Inc. Announces Strategic Partnership to Scale Waterless Dyeing Technology

27 February 2012 -

(Businesswire)

NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE) announced today it has entered into a strategic partnership with DyeCoo Textile Systems B.V., a Netherlands-based company that has developed and built the first commercially available waterless textile dyeing machines

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Tesco drops carbon-label pledge

13 February 2012 -

(Guardian) By Adam Vaughan

Tesco has dropped its plan to label all its products with their carbon footprint, blaming the amount of work involved and other supermarkets for failing to follow its lead.

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Child Labor for Fair-Trade Cotton Probed by U.S. Investigators

30 January 2012 -

(SF Gate) By Cam Simpson, Ekow Dontoh and Jeff Bliss

U.S. investigators are conducting a preliminary inquiry into forced child labor used in an organic and fair-trade cotton program that supplies the American lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret, a federal law enforcement official confirmed this week.

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Nike factory to pay $1m to Indonesian workers for overtime

30 January 2012 -

(Guardian) By Kate Hodal

A Nike factory has agreed to pay $1m in unpaid overtime to Indonesian workers in a move that could force other suppliers of multinational companies to follow suit.

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Patagonia Pioneers Sustainability Legal Status

12 January 2012 -

(Environmental Leader)

Outdoor clothing company Patagonia has become the first company in California to elect to be a “benefit corporation.” The legal status affords a company’s directors legal cover to consider environmental and social benefits over financial returns.

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Patagonia Pioneers Sustainability Legal Status

12 January 2012 -

(Environmental Leader)

Outdoor clothing company Patagonia has become the first company in California to elect to be a “benefit corporation.” The legal status affords a company’s directors legal cover to consider environmental and social benefits over financial returns.

Read the full article here

Puma aiming to produce compostable trainers and T-shirts

18 November 2011 -

(Guardian) By Louise Osborne

German sportswear manufacturer working on designs for shoes and clothing that can be buried at the bottom of the garden

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What’s Next for PUMA’s Groundbreaking Sustainability Plans?

7 November 2011 -

(GreenBiz.com) By Adam Aston

Jochen Zeitz has had a busy year. I recently caught up with the long-serving Chairman and CEO of PUMA, the sports gear company where Zeitz blended an evangelical commitment to sustainability with smart branding to return the nearly defunct brand to the top tier of global sports fashion.

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Integrated reporting in a disintegrating world

3 November 2011 -

(Guardian) By Bill Baue and Marcy Murninghan

International Integrated Reporting Committee releases discussion paper advancing the business case for integration

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Costumed Activists to Give Hershey More Than 100,000 Signatures Demanding a Commitment to Child Labor-Free Cocoa by Halloween

3 November 2011 -

(CSR Wire) By Elizabeth O”Connell

Hershey customers and ethical cocoa advocates delivered more than 100,000 petition signatures to Hershey’s corporate headquarters today calling on the company to commit to buying ethically produced cocoa.

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4 Ways Timberland Will Halve Its Carbon Footprint by 2015

29 October 2011 -

(GreenBiz) By Tilde Herrera

Just a few weeks ago, we brought you the news about how Timberland’s carbon footprint inched up 11 percent last quarter. That turned out to be a bit of a surprise for the outdoor retailer.

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Patagonia Asks Its Customers To Buy Less

29 October 2011 -

(FastCompany) By Ben Schiller

A new initiative to get people to repair or resell their Patagonia clothes might hurt the bottom line, but the outdoor gear company is pretty sure it’s going to help both profits and the planet.

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How Patagonia and Opower Point the Way to Sustainable Consumption

29 October 2011 -

(GreenBiz.com) By Ted Howes

Sustainable consumption remains the next big challenge in sustainability. Without recounting impending resource scarcity and the population boom, the macro trends show that we’re heading into a very different world.

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Plan A Pays Off for M&S: 30% Lower Carbon Intensity than Some Rivals

29 October 2011 -

(GreenBiz.com) By Tilde Herrera

Marks & Spencer’s (M&S) launched its expansive sustainability program known as Plan A in 2007 with a mind-boggling 100 goals. Another 80 were added last year.

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Nike Sets Up Green Venture Capital Arm

4 October 2011 -

(Environmental Leader) Nike is to set up a sustainable venture capital arm in an effort to cut costs and promote green commerce.

The sports clothing company’s Sustainable Business & Innovation Lab is to back startups focused on alternative energy and more efficient manufacturing approaches, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

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Marks & Spencer fined £1 million over asbestos

28 September 2011 -

(The Independent) By Alison Kershaw
Retail giant Marks & Spencer was fined £1 million today for failing to protect customers, staff and workers from potential exposure to asbestos during refurbishment at one of its stores.

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Clickers and Stickers Make H&M Detox

22 September 2011 -

(Greenpeace) September 20, 2011
Clothing giant H&M has responded to a torrent of tweets, Facebook updates, and Detox sticker actions last week with a public commitment to Detox. Hazardous chemicals are out. Transparency and transformational change are in.

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Patagonia to Help Customers Reuse Clothing, in an Ebay ‘First’

13 September 2011 -

(Environmental Leader) September 8, 2011
Patagonia is encouraging consumers to buy and sell its clothing through a new storefront on Ebay, paired with a customer pledge system.

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Uniqlo Launches Clothing Recycling Drive

13 September 2011 -

(Environmental Leader) September 2, 2011
Japanese clothing store Uniqlo has begun rolling out its All-Product Recycling Initiative at its stores in the U.S., U.K. and France.

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M&S extends Plan A sustainable cotton programme

30 August 2011 -

(Green Wise) August 22, 2011
A Marks & Spencer (M&S) programme to source more sustainable cotton and improve the lives of thousands of farmers in India that produce the raw material for the retailer has been extended after it has been shown to have cut water use by more than half and cut pesticides use by more than 80 per cent.

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Nike Bows to Greenpeace, Plans to Drop Hazardous Chemicals

24 August 2011 -

(Environmental Leader) August 19, 2011
Sportswear giant Nike has bowed to pressure from Greenpeace and promised to eliminate all hazardous chemicals across its entire supply chain, and the entire life-cycle of its products, by 2020.

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Adidas Chemical Coalition ‘to Respond to Greenpeace Claims’

24 August 2011 -

(Environmental Leader) August 23, 2011
Adidas is in talks with competitors, including Nike and Puma, to develop a response to Greenpeace’s intensifying campaign on chemicals in the supply chain, Business Green reports.

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