Sustainable Retailing as a strategy for Indian firms

Dayananda Sagar College of Engineering
Deputy Director
Indira Gandhi National Open University


Sustainable development is the future of all the enterprises. Sustainable retailing is new to Indian companies but the efforts are already made by many multinationals globally.

The Indian consumers have undergone a remarkable transformation. Just a decade or two ago, the Indian consumers saved most of their income, purchased the bare necessities and rarely indulged themselves. Today, armed with a higher income, credit cards exposure to the shopping culture of the west and a desire to improve their standard of living, the Indian consumers are spending like never before. Organized retail with its variety of products and multitude of malls and supermarkets is fueling their addiction. Their new mentality, in turn, is fueling the growth of organized retail in India ( Kamaladevi Baskaran 2012)

Green practices can be adapted at every stage in the retail value chain like back end process, retail operations and consumer initiatives (Smithu Malhotra 2012).

Who is Green Consumer?

Who is mindful of environment related issues and obligations, and is supportive of environmental causes to the extent of switching allegiance from one product or supplier to another even if it entails higher cost.

Literature Review

If the consumers in retail industry are properly educated and motivated we can push green products. With increased environmental awareness consumers are opting for green products even at higher price (Ritu Sinha,2011). Consumer behavior and lifestyle influences the way they buy the products. The retailer's management has to consider the code of practice and need to be concerned with the ethical behavior (Sonia 2003).

The environmental value-attitude-system model has been shown to have evolved from a sound theoretical base. Its application serves three groups each of which has a specific need to gain further insights into a very complex social phenomenon. There is much scope for investigation of the interrelationships between variables, for understanding the complex phenomenon in relation to specific products and for Investigating cultural influences on environmentally conscious purchase behavior. Finally, the model demonstrates the rather limited value to marketers of using the results of opinion polls as a guide to consumers' actual purchase behavior. Such surveys only examine environmental consciousness on a global level which is rather abstract and far removed from actual purchase behavior. An examination of the model reveals why there is such a gap between expressed environmental values and actual behavior. If it is seen to be desirable to include environmental considerations in future marketing strategies then marketers will need to gain an in-depth understanding of the variables which may act as barriers to environmentally- conscious consumer behavior. (Sabine Dembkowski and Stuart Hanmer-LIoyd 1994)

When the buying habits of consumers are being strangely influenced by green and other environmental issues, the paper argues that the marketing concept and subsequent strategies need to be rethought. Marketing departments need to produce goods of a better quality which have a longer life-span and are produced in a way which is as harmless to the environment as possible. Changing the companies packaging is not enough ( Andrea Prothero 1990).

A particular research agenda is therefore proposed, namely, approaching the green consumer as a situated socio-material process, which allows not only for what might be decisive for making the decision to purchase, use and disposal of products and services in a sustainable manner, it also enables one to learn how these issues become significant (Satu Reijonen 2011).

Consumers are looking for and buying green products in ever-increasing numbers. Large retailers such as Tesco, Wal-Mart, Kohl's, Office Depot and many more have adopted green strategies and realized the significant benefits accruing from them. Green initiatives include, among others, green buildings, efficient consumer delivery systems, efficient lighting systems, and the use of renewable power such as solar, wind and biomass and promotion of green product.

According to Enviranmental Vahte-Attitude-System Model (Sahine Dembko^vski and Stuart Hanmer-Lloyd,1994)consumer environmental awareness and their purchase behavior is measured and the interrelationship can be measured with respect to different productsand the influence of culture on the consumer decision making can also be studied.

The model also bridges the gap between environmental consciousness on a global level and the actual purchase behavior. This model also reveals the reason for such a gap. Hence there is a need for marketers to study such environmentally conscious consumer behavior.

Benefits of Sustainable Innovation

Environmental Benefits

* Greenhouse gas emissions reduced
* Energy use reduced or efficiency increased
* Hazardous pollutants released in air, water or land reduced
* Solid waste reductions, materials use reduced or efficiency increased
* Supplier behavior influenced, resulting in environmental benefits
* Natural resources protected or restored

Social Benefits

* Stakeholder consultation
* Livelihood creation
* Community relation enhancement/ benefit
* Specific impact on social issues of direct

Business Benefits

* Cost savings
* Increased revenues or earnings
* Reduced liability or risk
* Return on investment/payback period
* New market creation
* Investment attractiveness
* Benefits for customers
* Brand/reputation enhancement Innovativeness

* Is the innovation original or is it a significant improvement over an existing solution?
* Is it still in scarce use?
* Does it offer economic, social and/ or environmental benefits?
* Is it applicable to other sectors/ areas?
* Is it commercially viable?


Sustainability only will lead to innovation and ultimately it leads to the profits. Any problem can be viewed as a challenge and already few Indian companies and entrepreneurs have started moving in this direction.

Sustainable business drives more innovation in products their by adding more business value with cost reduction which have proved crucial in developing successful business strategies globally.

This changed scenario towards more environmental awareness is beneficial for future business existence and growth. Developing economies like India can focus on such issues which will lead to low cost production and healthy consumption by using research for searching more resource efficient solutions. In addition the companies will also get global competitive advantage.

Hence the company's effort must be towards building strategies which will lead to success in low carbon economy. The Biometric database will create lot of opportunities for different industries in Indian companies.


Ritu Sinha, Green Retailing: An Exploratory Study Examining the Effects of Sustainability on Global Retail Landscape Conference on Inclusive & Sustainable Growth Role of Industry, Government and Society Conference Proceedings: 2011

2 Sonia, Changing Face of Indian Retail Sector: Ethics, Challenges and Opportunities Journal of Economics and Sustainable Development, Vol.2, No.355

3 Sita Mishra, GIS in Indian Retail Industry-A Strategic Tool, International Journal of Marketing Studies,Vol.1, No.1,(2009)

4 Andrea Prothero, Green Consumerism and the Societal Marketing Concept: Marketing Strategies for the 1990's, 1990, 6, No. 2, 87-103

5 Satu Reijonen, Environmentally friendly consumer: from determinism to emergence, International Journal of Consumer Studies ,(2000)

6 Ching ching, Feeling Ambivalent About Going Green, Implications for Green Advertising Processing,Chang Journal of Advertising, vol. 40, no. 4 ,2011, pp. 1931.

Kamaladevi Baskaran, The FDI permit for multi brand retail trading in India-green signal or red signal, Business Intelligence - January, Vol.5 No.1, (2012)

8 Green retailing, Business markets-research paper-Apr2012P.No:18

9 Sachin Joshi, Seema Arora, Dennis Pamlin, and Shirish Sinha, Sustainability as a driver for innovation and profit, CII-ITC/WWF Report, (2008).

Dayananda Sagar College of Engineering
Deputy Director
Indira Gandhi National Open University

Source: E-mail September 7, 2012


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