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Welcome back to J.C. Williams Group’s Retail Innovations Blog Series where we celebrate global retail innovation, concepts, and trends! This series is based on our annual publication Retail Innovations, developed in partnership with our affiliate members from the Ebeltoft Group. Throughout the year, we will explore the hot four trends (Omniexperience, Smart Shopping, Engagement, and Activism) showcased in 2018 Global Retail Trends & Innovations and gain insight into the underlying and emerging trends in modern retail.

In today’s blog, we will explore Trend #4: Activism.


Trend #4: Activism

Consumers are increasingly looking to align with brands and retailers that share their values. Activism plays an important part in this, and it means that brands no longer can be a neutral onlooker; they must take a stand on social and political issues or risk losing customers, and even losing sight of their own brand identity. This is how retailers offer the opportunity for all involved to feel they are contributing to a greater purpose when buying or representing a particular brand, resulting in loyal customers, employees, and shareholders.

Social Foodies, Denmark

Social Foodies is a chain that sells sustainable, high-quality sweets, mostly chocolate and ice cream, to consumers in Denmark, to support farmers in Africa to achieve a better life. Most products in the stores are made from raw materials from Africa, where the chain has built a chocolate factory and employs locals from Cape Town to operate it, similarly to a dairy in Mozambique, where locals received 300 cows and an education in agro-business and are able to put food on the table. The chain now has seven stores; most include a small sitting area or café, where customers can enjoy their ice cream or breakfast. The store also presents workshops, so customers can learn how to make its famous cream puffs.

Social Foodies has created a sustainable concept that, as a way to help small farmers in Africa, sells sustainable sweets to consumers. The concept taps into consumers’ desire to do good through their purchases, but, whereas many retailers and brands today want to explore how they can cater to consumers who are increasingly aware of their own consumption, Social Foodies wishes to help push consumer behavior into an even more conscious direction.

J.C. Williams Group Expert Comment:

Social Foodies produces great products and the sweets are very popular among the consumers. The chain has several times been nominated by AOK, a renowned guide to Copenhagen, as the “Best Sweets in Town,” a prize the company won in 2018.

In addition to making great products, the chain is run by enthusiasts with a common goal to create jobs and education and improve the local economy in third-world countries. Social Foodies is involved in the production process from the small farmer to the final products in the store and controls the entire supply chain.

Everlane, U.S.A.

Everlane, a digital native, is a U.S.-based apparel retailer with a focus on ethical production of clothes. The company has expanded into bricks-and-mortar retail. Stores were launched with the goal of increasing interaction with customers; layout is simple and spacious, and the product line is updated weekly. The store features a lounge and will host a variety of events, such as classes and panels. Check-out locations around the store are loaded with customers’ purchase history.

The company focus on ethical production and transparency is clearly reflected throughout the store in signs, pamphlets, photos and tags on products, with information on the factories where products are produced and where each comes from. Everlane provides a model for how to communicate that the quality is what it says it is. Everlane’s forthright messaging, coupled with its fashion forward aesthetic, has turned customers into loyalists and inspired the startup of other fashion brands.

J.C. Williams Group Expert Comment:

Since launching the company in 2011 as a direct-to-consumer clothing brand committed to “radical transparency,” the company has been defying the reign of fast-fashion heavyweights like Zara and H&M. Everlane uses its website and social media handles to offer customers a glimpse into its factories around the world, gives voice to the workers making its garments and shares a price breakdown of each product it sells.

Sois Blessed, Germany

Sois Blessed is a 600 sqm concept store and an inspiring place for all who understand fashion, lifestyle and interior as a statement, not a status.

The store presents brands and products with unique stories behind the labels. One hundred percent of the profits of the Sois Blessed collection go to the children at Hope School, a charity project in East London, South Africa. Sois Blessed invites customers to linger in the Day Bar or enjoy modern floral arrangements, vases and ceramics in the beautiful Flower Studio.

The Sois Blessed concept store is making a difference far beyond an opportunity for shopping. The Day Bar and Flower Studio entice customers to spend time, have lunch or just meet for coffee. The Sois Blessed team has created a cozy, but chic atmosphere, which makes the stay as pleasant as possible. Frequently, events, such as readings, concerts and workshops, etc., contribute to create a place of encounter and exchange.

J.C. Williams Group Expert Comment:

Social responsibility is becoming more and more important for retailers, if they want to make a real difference. Sois Blessed focuses on encouraging and supporting others. With regular events and its unique fashion line, Sois Blessed takes responsibility and emphasizes a major issue of our time, all within an inspiring and welcoming atmosphere.

J.C. Williams Group’s Final Word

This is just a small selection of the case studies available in the full 2019 Retail Innovations and Trends, but they already begin to illustrate how important a brand’s advocacy is to customers, as well as the standard to which brands must uphold them. We at JCWG expect to see more brands take up social stances as 2019 progresses and 2020 looms nearer.

See 4 MORE Activism concepts and more in 2019 Retail Innovations and Trends! Download your free copy now!