Greta, the customers on the streets and the supply chain

Michele Caprini
13 Oct 2019

Greta Thunberg and retail, a bold association? No, in the green plazas that impose themselves to the attention of the world, buyers of today and tomorrow did the part of the lion. We cannot prescind from them.

It is not needed to show consumer trend statistics, sustainability is fundamental in consumer habits. For those who look for numbers and confirmation, simple online research is more than enough.

From retail and complementary areas of production, there is anything but attention deficit. Two weeks from its appearance, the new Coop advertising spot, among the promoters of “sustainable purchase Saturdays”, resulted in a great success and sparked lively reactions (especially between farmers).

Many research indicators shall identify in brands and providers, many more than in institutions, the real emergency speakers for the new generations of consumers. This, Greta or not, is a significant element.


In an interview with the website Retail Touchpoints of 2 October, Sue Welch, CEO of Bamboo Rose, one of the great international platforms of services for retail and supply chain, summarized the new reality.

“Just four or five years ago, sustainability was made by words, but now it is a social movement”. The last august, 32 great fashion, and worldwide distribution brands signed the G7 Fashion Pact, finalized to the reduction of global warming. Between these, Gap, Nike, H&M Group, Inditex, Selfridges, Galeries Lafayette, and Nordstrom. This is the first important theme of the global movement with Greta Thunberg as a symbol.

Passing over the pure ethics considerations, Sue Welch speaks about the profitability of the new practices. “sustainability can guarantee savings on costs. In the clothes production, about 15% of the fabric ends up on the cutting floor. Reduce that percentage to 10% or 5% is a huge opportunity to save money. Sustainability is the engine, but efficiency is the change”.


In the catering, the problem is particularly felt, and it is the engine for innovative solutions. Too Good To Go is an app, actually available in nine countries worldwide with 21.000 partners and 8.3 million downloads, to sell with a discount the excess food of restaurants and resellers.

In Sweden, from the last year, “Karma” allows the 2000 partners of the platform to sell exceeding food with a discount of 50%. The app counts 500.000 users in 150 cities of Sweden, Paris, and London.

More in general, in western Europe the complementary theme of “zero waste” is rapidly starting to catch on. Bulk Market and Zero Waste Shop are opening the way to this consume philosophy in the UK, in an appreciable digital context.

Large-scale distribution

In the GDO, initiatives in defense of the environment are multiplying, no longer on the three usual premises “reduce, recycle, remove”, but also with territorial projects.

It is the case of the Italian discount chain MD, 2,3 billion in revenue in 2018 with 700 stores, active in reducing road haulage emissions and in the green areas.

In addition to MD, there is the German Lidl, the ninth sign of Italian GDO, which is focusing on energy and earth.

Sustainability is already an essential assessment parameter for business models. Neglected or underestimated, it determines severe consequences on the relation with consumers. Already in a short time.