Engaging Eco-led Stores

Charlotte Hurd


In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic took centre stage – but this doesn’t mean that the climate crisis has gone away. 

In many instances the pandemic has increased demand for eco-conscious consumption – an attitude that consumers ultimately want to see reflected in brands’ spaces.  

When it comes to store design there are five key themes to consider:  

1. Prioritise honesty & transparency: create end-to-end authentic sustainability    

First and foremost, consumers are looking for transparency and honestwhen it comes to brand loyalty. Brands need to be open and humble when it comes to their sustainability credentials – sharing what has been achieved in the past and the capabilities for achieving any future goals. 

2. Be thoughtful & offer a new perspective  

After years of consumption and fast fashion, consumers now wish to simplify and slow down – taking time to pause and appreciate a product of quality.  

Brands should look to work ethics and values into their overall mission - consumers are buying into purpose, not just product.  

Because of this overall change in mindset, consumers are more drawn to thoughtful design, looking at both craftsmanship and detail. Overall, consumers are taking the long view, making choices based on personal taste rather than being influenced by a passing trend or fad. 

3.Speak to your community in open, intelligent ways & become a lifestyle service provider, not Just a retail store

Communication and purpose are key to getting your consumers onboard. Consumers around the world want greater transparency; 86% believe there is too little information on product packaging for them to assess how sustainable items are.  

Ensure your efforts don't go to waste by informing customers of your sustainable practices through impactful installations and messaging. 

4. Bake sustainability into your designs from the ground up 

As sustainability becomes key across all elements of people’s lives, the future will see our ecosystems become more self-sufficient and environmentally friendly.  

Wellness is a hugely important consideration across all sectors, particularly following lockdown. Wellness cues will now be designed into built environments as its impact on human health is fully appreciated. Buildings and transport systems will need to begin to incorporate elements like biophilia, air purifiers and therapeutic colours. 

5. Material innovation: Consider the wealth in waste  

While natural resources are becoming severely depleted, there is an abundance of waste materials which are available at very little cost. In most cases, replacing materials with ‘waste’ is beneficial to the planet.  

And as 81% of global consumers believe that companies should be helping to improve the environment (Nielsen, 2018), it can be good for business, too. 

And how does that look in practice? 

Brand innovation in these areas will be varied as many look to understand how they can be authentically sustainable.  

Veja, a brand with a pre-existing reputation for eco have recently expanded their offer, opening a store/lab space in an ex-military barracks in its hometown of Bordeaux, France.  

The space, named Darwin, is a coworking, events and retail space which unites “art, commerce, culture, work, and sport.”  

Countering consumerism and retail’s obsession with the next new thing, the Veja x Darwin space houses not-quite-launched prototypes, sneakers with minimal defects (at reduced prices) and pairs from previous collections. It also features a workshop where visitors can have their shoes cleaned and repaired, and where old shoes can be recycled.  

The space has also been designed with sustainability in mind – it is made up of locally sourced wood and runs on 100% renewable electricity.  

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Ikea are another brand whose reputation for eco has grown from strength to strength. In August of last year, the brand opened Dom Jutra or House of TomorrowThe core aim of the space is to show consumers the possibilities for eco-friendly interiors within the perimeters of existing spaces and materials – the space is located within a 120-year-old townhouse.  

The store also includes a relaxation area, a ‘house farm’ with veg garden and a. kitchen where plant-based dishes are created during foodie workshops in which local people are invited to participate, or for take-out dining. 

Visitors can also learn more about repairing or modifying household items, reducing excess waste. Locals are also encouraged and invited to attend forums with city officials and waste specialists with the aim of co-authoring better waste management schemes.  

Ikea’s ability to share their knowledge and expertise with consumers is key to their success. Consumers look to them for support and guidance and Ikea have appealed to this – creating various opportunities for learning and growth.  

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Eco led stores shouldn’t just be the slightly less glamourous sister of a brand’s standard flagship store – but instead the physical representation of a brand’s future strategy.  

Some of the best examples, such as Veja and Ikea merge beautiful aesthetics with innovative service allowing consumers to see products and consumption in new ways. The key is to create a space for those who want to act more responsibly but do not want to compromise on style.  

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