Criteria Retail

type - trends
category - society
category - sustainability
sector - retail
From groceries to homeware, retail brands are communicating their brand social values and eco-values to customers by setting strict criteria for products they sell

Values for money

Values-driven retail is evolving. Following the rise of Moral Commerce in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, and the growth of retailers supporting global artisans during the pandemic, now companies are focusing their retail offer not only on the values of their business, but on those of the brands and makers they stock.

This comes as shoppers themselves look to retailers to provide – and ratify – items against key criteria. Indeed, a recent survey by Shopkick reports that 68% of US consumers say the pandemic has made them more conscious consumers, while 39% are actively researching companies’ brand social values and practices to ensure they align with their own personal beliefs.

Whether the product in question is circular, independently made or from a Black-founded brand, Criteria Retail points to a future in which both sellers and customers will gravitate towards platforms that are openly values-led and purposeful. Already, Ocado is offering a virtual aisle dedicated to B Corp-certified brands.

Elsewhere, nascent grocery platform Hive connects shoppers with sustainable or cause-led brands that match their values. Accordingly, each brand sold by Hive is vetted against five criteria, dubbed The Hive Five: ingredient integrity, recyclable packaging, a low carbon footprint, commitment to social good and having a product that’s rave-worthy. Failure to maintain these criteria means a brand risks being removed from sale.

Published by:

28 July 2021

Author: Kathryn Bishop

Image:  Itsapark by H&M Group



Symbolic standards

According to recent data from Google, searches for Black-owned businesses via the platform soared by 600% in 2020 compared to 2019, with growth in search terms such as ‘Black-owned bookstores’ and ‘Black-owned restaurants’.

In response, for Black History Month 2021, the search giant added a Black-owned attribute to the Google Shopping tab. Tuning into Criteria Retail, this tab allows consumers to easily filter and buy from Black-owned businesses on Google. ‘Black businesses are critical to the growth and recovery of the US economy,’ a statement from the company reads, while highlighting the rich legacy of community and activism among Black-owned businesses.

In the UK, homeware retailer The Cornrow understands that shoppers are looking for value-led criteria to guide their purchases. ‘It’s not just a question of quality or price but of conscience – there’s increased understanding that artisans can’t compete with mass on price,’ co-founder Kemi Lawson tells LS:N Global. ‘People are now willing to pay more if they know it’s supporting a cause they care for… we need to support our communities directly and vote with our wallets.’

As a result, The Cornrow sources and sells products against one or more of four criteria, namely that the brand is Black-owned, the items are made in Africa, eco-friendly or one of a kind. The criteria are explained on the site, and are represented by symbols featured in product listings. Each symbol is based on ancient Ghanaian Adinkra symbols, traditionally used to impart wisdom, philosophical thoughts, ideas or knowledge of the natural world.

‘The symbols summarise what we care about the most and help our customers know how they are making the world a better place’
The Cornrow

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