Not a stupid question: Consumers have different priorities, why should saving the planet be one of them?

Can “sustainability” be sold differently… Maybe more selfishly, to appeal to people’s highest priority, themselves?

Another Christmas come and gone, another New Year, and has society changed?

Has the Greta effect worked, or perhaps have we been inspired by the green messages of (globetrotting) celebrities like William Windsor, and David Attenborough?

Do we remain unmoved by the plight of the Earth, or are we slowly starting to change?

The continual uptake of plant-based diets is a significant, sustainable change which many individuals and families have made. But many who follow vegan diets still contribute to greenhouse gas emissions through other purchases such as fuel, energy, and fashion.

Much fewer sustainable alternatives are available to replace car fuel, aeroplane fuel, home energy and fast fashion however, and because of this, and in order to “live sustainably”, consumers need to go out of their way to find eco-alternatives.

But why should they do that?

People have busy lives, difficult lives in many instances. So why should people care about living cleaner, and less wastefully? That would surely be at the bottom of a consumer’s list of priorities.

And it is in most instances.

But maybe people just aren’t being sold “sustainability” suitably?

Perhaps the wrong benefits are being emphasised?

Instead of “saving the planet”, maybe consumers should be encouraged to “save their wallet”…

All that clutter used to be money, and that money used to be time


So, every disposable item we buy and waste is money taken from our purses and dropped straight in the rubbish. But is this entirely accurate?

Money may buy us cheap, poorly-made goods, but it also buys us cheap, reasonably-made goods, and therefore, convenience.

So, whether as a sustainable option may be better made and may save us money in the long run, how many of us are patient enough to even wait “for the long run”?

How many of us instead prefer to replace items more regularly in order to avoid “shabbiness” or to follow new trends?

I recently saw a post on the #sustsinablefashionblogger Instagram hashtag which showed a fashion blogger standing before a pile of vintage clothes and holding a sign which read:

You can buy all the expensive vintage tees, but you can’t buy good vintage style


You know where you can buy style?

From fast-fashion juggernauts like Shein. And on Shein online, you can buy six items of clothing for the same price as one expensive, vintage tee.

It’s a similar story for other purveyors of fast fashion…

Wanting to be stylish isn’t a behaviour which changes, especially not among younger people (the biggest consumers of fast fashion), so how is it easiest to follow fashion, and remain ‘in style’?

For most people, you remain in some semblance ‘stylish’ by seeking the least expensive and most accessible options available.

If fashion is still important to vintage customers, can fast fashion consumers be blamed for adhering to new trends and their ever-changing rules?

These are the things which are important to consumers; seemingly shallow and unimportant things (in the vast scale of existence) such as popular fashion, something which is still more important than “saving the planet” to most consumers.

So, where does that leave you as a sustainable retailer?

Well, until there’s a shift in consumer priorities, the uphill battle to convince consumers to “live beyond themselves” will continue.

But can “sustainability” be sold differently… Maybe more selfishly, to appeal to people’s highest priority, themselves?

What sustainable goal can be achieved by customers making purchases which primarily, as far as they can see, will benefit themselves or their own?

How can sustainability indeed be made selfish?

Selling personal benefits to the buyer will always be the easiest route to convince a consumer to open their wallet.

So, how can you adapt your marketing to appeal to consumers who buy only to benefit themselves i.e. most people?

And how can you make your product more relevant to the Now and not simply The Future?

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