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Stock Sustainable Brands & Boost Profits: Top Lines & Expert Advice for Retailers

Sustainable retailing: What are the key brands for eco-conscious shoppers?

Stock Sustainable Brands & Boost Profits: Top Lines & Expert Advice for Retailers - Recycle

Sixty-eight per cent of consumers believe that healthy products shouldn’t harm the environment, as found by The Tetra Pak Index 2023, and a further 43% consider the future of the planet when making food choices.

While retailers have been dedicated to making their businesses more environmentally friendly through LED lights and installing doors on chillers, many are missing a key ingredient: sustainable brands.

The reasons behind this, according to retailers, is that they tend to be slow sellers or need to work harder to earn their space. However, a key benefit of stocking sustainable brands – aside from being better for the planet – is higher margins.

Here, we reveal advice from retailers on how to make sustainable products work and identify top lines that are delivering for stores like yours.

Getting started with sustainable brands

“Do your research. We found most of our sustainable brands online, or through trade magazines or other independent retailers,” Trudy Davies, of Woosnam & Davies in Llanidloes, Powys says.

But that’s not all. Davies advises looking in every shop – whether convenience or not – because you never know what you’ll find. “We took a trip to Barcelona last year where we found a refill shop. I took photos, came home, and researched how I could implement that in-store.”

When it comes to new suppliers – especially those who highlight they are eco-friendly – the key is to ask questions to make sure they are truly sustainable and viable for your business.

“We ask if there’s a minimum order because we don’t have a lot of room,” Davies adds. “We then look at costs compared to its counterparts if there’s one available.

“It’s usually cheaper to buy the eco-friendly option and sell them, but we always quiz sustainable suppliers on their ethos. It’s easy for a company to say they’re being sustainable, but actions speak louder than words.”

For example, Davies stocks Miniml, a range of natural, zero-waste household and personal care products. “When you make an order, they plant a coral reef, so they’re actively giving back to improve the environment,” she adds.   

Goran Raven, of Raven’s Budgens in Abridge, Essex, adds that retailers need to have the confidence to stock eco-friendly products. “It can take a while to find the right supplier but trialling them is a good start and eventually you’ll find the right one,” he says.

Finding alternative routes to capture eco-conscious shoppers

Retailers should also look to local suppliers, as many of them naturally operate more sustainably. James Stead, of White’s Calver in Hope Valley, Peak District, has dedicated 40% of his business to local produce.

“Being sustainable is important to our customers and the demand is only going to grow,” he explains. “By using local suppliers, we’ve cut down our carbon footprint as they don’t need to travel as far.”

Stead has a local supplier for almost every category, including cakes, bakery, fruit and veg and meat.

Many of these suppliers approach Stead first as he’s built a reputation on trialling sustainable, local options in-store. “We know the area and we’re strong on local produce. If we’re looking for a specific supplier, we’ll look on Facebook,” he says.

With any new product, Stead trials them for a short period and monitors their success using sales data.

Stock Sustainable Brands & Boost Profits: Top Lines & Expert Advice for Retailers - FairfieldsFarm VinegarCheese Picnic 150g 1920

Research wholesalers who focus on eco-friendly options, like Epicurium. We stock brands like Fairfields Farm, which has several sustainable initiatives, from bio-crop production to reservoir management and biodiversity preservation. Others include Abakus, which donates 1% of its sales to support environmental causes, Dash Water, Fellow Creatures Vegan Chocolate and Adonis.

Marketing sustainable brands

It’s long been known that stocking the right brands is only half the battle. Marketing your products well will generate sales – and social media is king for this.

“We try to push local suppliers on Facebook as customers appreciate our work with them, and we’re more likely to capture tourists in the area, too,” Stead says.

Once you’ve started stocking the brands, post regularly on all your social media accounts. Hootsuite has reported Facebook will soon prioritise posts that “spark conversation and generate meaningful interactions between users”.

Make sure all posts include a question. For example, if you’ve started stocking a refill option of shampoo and conditioner, highlight the benefits and ask what scents customers would like to see.

Facebook is also prioritising pages that have a variety of content, from posts to images to reels. Reels are short videos that provide easy-to-digest information.

Pick a new sustainable brand and highlight what they’re doing to help the environment or offer ‘three fun facts about this product’. Doing a taste test with your staff can also boost engagement.

Social media is also a great way to find your next eco-friendly brand.

To find them, search local Facebook groups or put a post up asking for recommendations. Make sure to include specifics on what you’re looking for, do your research and reach out to start that conversation. You never know, it could be your next bestseller. 

Offering simple sustainable solutions

When thinking of eco-friendly brands, many retailers immediately look for food and drink – however, there’s so much more available. This ranges from cleaning products to personal care, or in Davies’ case, dog bags.

“A lot of dog bags aren’t recyclable, so we invested in bio-degradable options,” she says. “We even invested in sustainable dog shampoo, and it’s been a hit among pet owners.”

Davies’ journey to stocking eco-friendly brands started a few years ago when she invested in a zero-waste area. The area was an initial £5,000 investment and Davies started with pulses, beans, and rice.

“We started with products we knew would sell because we wanted to make sure it would be a good investment. It was slow to start with, but it’s now gone from strength to strength,” she says.

Davies recommends that when introducing eco-friendly brands, make sure they are simple for the consumer to use. “Being sustainable or stocking products loose will ultimately save customers time because they can just pop any used containers on the side, rather than unpacking the goods when they’re home,” she says.

“We all want to do the right thing, but we don’t always have the time to do so. By stocking sustainable brands or loose products, you’ve made it easy for them.”


Want to work with Epicurium and upgrade your range?

At Epicurium, we are passionate about helping retailers stock brands that are good for customers, good for profits and good for the planet. Request an account or contact us to find out how we can help you.

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