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Emerging trends in sustainable consumption take center stage at the international roundtable hosted by Koelnmesse in Utrecht

16-18 Jun 2024 • spoga+gafa

In a compelling address at the recent spoga+gafa international roundtable in Utrecht, Theresa Schleicher, a noted trade futurologist and advocate for economic innovation, provided insightful analysis into the evolving landscape of sustainable consumption. Her expertise, drawn from extensive experience, set the stage for a forward-looking discussion on “What’s Staying? A Glance at the Next Generation of Sustainable Consumption.”

Schleicher’s analysis, backed by trend surveys and her active involvement in the retail startup ecosystem, zeroes in on the industry’s shift towards a more conscious and focused form of consumerism. Highlighting a recent downturn in the DIY and garden center industry and a cautious approach towards new building projects, Schleicher pointed out the changing dynamics of consumer preferences, especially among younger generations leaning towards health and sustainability over traditional buying habits.

In her view, the future beckons a leaner, more curated approach to trade, emphasizing quality, sustainability, and innovation over sheer quantity. “As the most sustainable initiative in retail, consumers are primarily demanding one thing: 20% less. Less space, fewer products, fewer retailers,” Schleicher quotes from the Future Study Retail 2024. This minimalist trend, she believes, will redefine the trade and consumption landscape, focusing on brands that offer new variety, design, and enjoyment alongside conscious, quality, and sustainable offerings.

Schleicher identifies several key global trends poised to influence the green industry over the next two years:

A Shift Towards Regenerative Products: Highlighting a growing consumer fascination with products that not only conserve resources but actively contribute to environmental health, such as CO2-binding textiles for outdoor furniture and recycled textile waste plant fertilizers.

The Call for New Customer Magnets: Pointing towards a demand for small luxury items, durable entry-level products, and regenerative line-ups that appeal to a more eco-conscious consumer base, particularly among Gen Z.

A Need for Modernization in the Green Industry: Stressing the importance of fast, climate-neutral online services and more engaging in-store experiences to cater to the urban population's needs.

The Rise of Unpackaged Favorites: Schleicher touches on the increasing consumer preference for unpackaged goods, highlighting a growing awareness and aversion to excessive packaging.

A Move Away from Plastic and Cheap Offers: Schleicher calls for an industry-wide reevaluation of value communication, emphasizing quality and sustainability over price wars and disposable products.

Schleicher’s vision for the trade’s future is one of optimism and resilience. She envisions a garden industry that not only embraces sustainability but does so in a way that brings joy and satisfaction to the consumer. “The garden remains the feel-good place for people, so the focus is all the more on what they really bring into the garden,” Schleicher affirms, underscoring the intrinsic value of well-considered, sustainable choices in fostering a healthier, happier living environment.

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