A great example of this transparency in action was a recent move to reduce the price of cashmere products when the price of raw fibres dropped. A cashmere sweater that cost $US125 in November 2012 now costs $US100. It was a move widely applauded by customers who are growing a strong affinity for the honesty of the Everlane brand.
Everlane has also broken traditional retail conventions with the openness in which they talk about their factories around the world.
Details such as location, owner, products made, materials used and employee conditions are shared online and made visible through photos of the factory and staff in action. Many retailers source ethical factories, but few broadcast the importance and integrity like Everlane do.
Of course, Everlane is not alone in this movement of digital-first, high-quality, socially responsible retailers.
DSTLD, a Los Angeles-based denim brand promotes its ‘moral fibre’ with no sweat shops, eco-friendly fabrics and ethical pricing. For each item, they also show the retail price next to a retail price that a designer brand might charge. Once again, their focus is on clothing staples, not passing trends.
So can this transparent and socially responsible approach result in sustainable profitability?
Everlane and DSTLD are connecting with customers by building trust and brand integrity through a whole new level of transparency. Both brands have built their business based on inherent beliefs of product quality, social good and brand honesty.
Everlane and DSTLD reflect a structural shift occurring whereby informed customers, largely driven by millennials, want to know where their product is coming from and what the actual cost is.
According to Nielsen:
• 66 per cent of global consumers say they’re willing to pay more for sustainable brands – up 55 per cent from 2014
• 73 per cent of global millennials are willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings – up from 50 percent in 2014
A focus on transparency and social responsibility will translate to sustainable profitability provided the DNA of each brand remains true to the business model.
What Everlane and DSTLD are doing is driving a shift in customers’ expectations to a new norm. For traditional retailers, it’s now a matter of how will they respond, especially where millennials are involved…
Oh and in the interest of radical transparency - I’ve got a cashmere sweater on order!
James Stewart is National Retail Practice Leader at Ferrier Hodgson
This story originally appeared on ferrirhodgson.com