In brief

In brief

  • People today are hyper-aware of social, cultural and environmental issues—what retailers do matters more than what they say.
  • Brands with consistently high responsibility performance beat their peers in operating margin, profit and total shareholder returns.
  • Responsibility to all stakeholders—consumers, employees, partners and investors and the planet—is no longer optional.
  • Making responsible retail happen is an enterprise-wide commitment—strong leadership, collaboration and excellent communication are all essential.

It’s time for retailers to execute on their purpose

Retail has been in the throes of massive transformation for more than a decade. Omnichannel, personalization and social media are all now business as usual. One of the most profound changes? Retail with purpose: Who a retailer is, why it exists and how it runs through consumers’ lives.

Having a purpose is only half the story. Retailers need to execute on that purpose responsibly.

Brands with high responsibility performance don’t just win consumers’ confidence. Our research shows they outperform their peers too—across operating margin, operating profit and total shareholder returns.

From now on, relevancy, differentiation and growth will all hinge on delivering something truly meaningful through responsible retailing.

This demands an enterprise-wide commitment. Responsibility to all stakeholders—consumers, employees, partners and investors, and our planet—is critical.

Sixty two percent of consumers today shop with their values

Responsible to consumers

How well do you know your customers? What do they truly care about? What makes a product or service relevant to them in the moments that matter?

It’s a fine line to tread. Many consumers feel brands don’t know them well enough. But brands quickly forfeit trust when they overstep the mark by appearing to know too much.

The priorities? Understand consumers, their concerns, values and preferences. Build long-lasting trust, provide transparency and use data to humanize consumer relationships inventively—not invasively.

Responsible to employees

How do you unlock your employees’ potential so they feel empowered and motivated to bring the best of themselves to work every day—enabling your organization to deliver the most relevant experiences to your consumers?

Through your responsibility to think “human first”. Understand how machines enable more purpose for your employees. Incorporate technology to support employee growth. And create and nurture an equitable, inclusive culture from top to bottom.

Responsible retail is designing every aspect of the business around responsible initiatives.

Responsible to partners and investors

Keeping pace with consumer and employee demands—while sustaining profitability—means retailers must reinvent themselves, at speed and scale. It’s where partners play a vital role.

These partnerships bring new opportunities. But they can also create risks in a world where vendor and supplier relationships are closely scrutinized by consumers.

It’s why retailers have to be sure they have a common purpose across all partners that share their values.

Responsible to our planet

Environmental consciousness and consumerism matter more than ever to consumers and employees.

It’s why being responsible to them means being responsible to the planet. It’s not just ethical sense, it’s practical sense too. In a world with finite resources, business continuity has to be grounded in sustainability—right across the value chain.

Jill Standish

Senior Managing Director – Global Lead, Retail


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