Will a purpose-driven site do good for Zappos?

Discussion
Photo: Zappos
Nov 18, 2019
Tom Ryan

Zappos announced the launch of Goods for Good, a site featuring over 150 eco- and socially-conscious brands.

Zappos features products on Goods for Good under the following categories:

  • Vegan products constructed without animal parts or possessing components synthesized from animal parts, such as glue.
  • Give Back products that have some community impact, including brands that make donations based on product sales or that spearhead community activism.
  • Sustainably certified products that have been qualified by an industry-certifying organization with at least one industry standard for environmental or socioeconomic impact.
  • Organic products composed of organic cotton and other materials with a lower environmental impact.
  • Recycled materials made entirely or in part from recycled materials, such as water bottles.

The site currently features four “brand spotlights” telling the stories behind Fjällräven, Life Is Good, Tentree and Diff Eyewear.

“We know for our customers every purchase matters and they’re passionate about investing in products that contribute to a greater good,” said Steven Bautista, Head of Charitable Giving, Zappos, in a statement. “We want to ensure the best service and shopping experience possible, so we’ve made it fast and easy for them to view all relevant products at once and learn about each brand’s purpose.”

In September, Nordstrom launched a Sustainable Style site featuring brands sorted based on whether they are sustainably sourced, are responsibly manufactured or give back through charities. Zappos’ site embraces more elements of a larger purpose-driven theme.

Studies continue to find consumers, particularly members of Gen-Z and Millennials, are seeking out brands for sustainable and ethical reasons:

  • A January survey of U.S. consumers by information technology firm CGS found 47 percent would pay more for a sustainable product.
  • Accenture’s fourteenth annual survey exploring purpose-led brands found that globally, 63 percent of consumers prefer to buy goods and services from companies that stand for a shared purpose that reflects their personal values and beliefs, and are ditching those that don’t.
  • Kantar’s Purpose 2020 study showed that brands with perceived positive impact outperform brands that are not or only partially perceived that way.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How would you rate the appeal of a platform featuring purpose-driven brands such as Zappos’ Goods for Good? Do you see a broader opportunity across channels to help consumers shop based on their eco- and social-consciousness?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Zappos hit the bullseye, as consumers want to feel good about the products and companies they support. "
"I like that Zappos is positioning this as a section of their parent site; it gives consumers a way to organize choices on their terms."
"Adding a purpose-driven platform is completely congruent with their reputation and will only further their cause to be customer-centric and community minded."

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14 Comments on "Will a purpose-driven site do good for Zappos?"


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Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

There’s a significant swath of socially-conscious customers who’ll be drawn to this site, which poses some real upside for Zappos without much risk. Why not?

Anne Howe
BrainTrust

When a giant company like Zappos makes it so easy to shop with a purpose filter, the masses will respond. We as a nation need more of this in the near future, not less. Kudos to Zappos for acting boldly.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Zappos hit the bullseye, as consumers want to feel good about the products and companies they support.

More consumers actively sought purpose-led brands in 2019.

Zappos also knows this trend isn’t going away. The Consumer Goods Forum reports 95 percent of retail marketers agreed that consumer interest in transparency on social, health, environmental and safety issues will increase in the future.

As such, retailers face a potentially lucrative cross-channel opportunity to help consumers shop according to their values.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

I think that the risk/reward economics are pretty simple — at least initially. Zappos won’t have much upfront investment and if it works, i.e., if consumers actually buy the way they say they buy, the upside is fairly significant. The issue isn’t whether consumers — especially late Millennials and Gen Zers — believe in issues like sustainability and organics, it’s whether they are really ready to spend against those beliefs. That said, we are talking about 150 brands here, not 15,000, so the program is manageable. And many of theses brands are small, niche players — so even a 2 or 3 percent hike in sales spells big success. As to how large the broader opportunity is, whatever the size of the market, it’s likely to be controlled by the prime movers. You really don’t want to be the 125th retailers or brander to discover their corporate conscience.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

Socially conscious shopping is more than just a trend today – it’s an emotional response to consumerism and Zappos is brilliant for not just supporting the trend, but enabling people in a frictionless way to fulfill that desire. Kudos to Zappos!

Cynthia Holcomb
BrainTrust
Shopping reached environmental overload during the cheap decade; the fast fashion phase of product creation. There are several prongs to the question of purpose-driven brands beyond manufacturing new goods for eco- and socially-conscious consumers, no matter their age. The world is filled with billions of products stored in landfills because there is no other place to dispose of these products. The advent of one-day delivery and 30-minute delivery of products may counteract the good of buying eco/socially-conscious goods. Studies are already being done on the environmental impact of one-day/30-minute delivery as retailers compete with one another. The age of digital inventories has spawned warehouses filled with millions and millions of products never possible to contain in a physical store, creating $207 billion in returns in 2018. With UPS forecasting a Black Returns Day for 2019 holiday shopping. Shopping technologies have failed in their attempt to cross the sensory chasm of digital shopping, creating a sensory/intelligence gap between shoppers and products. Resulting in the creation of “burn zones” where millions and millions of dollars of RETURNS… Read more »
Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

“Cause-related marketing” has piqued shopper interest for decades. This is only growing with the increase in social awareness globally. This will address new markets for the retailer.

Chuck Palmer
BrainTrust

As we see success with “purpose-driven” brands and efforts such as Zappos’ Goods for Good, we see more and more companies chasing the trend. I hope it’s not a trend.

I like that Zappos is positioning this as a section of their parent site; it gives consumers a way to organize choices on their terms. Elevating it to almost-brand status is an interesting move. Perhaps they are testing the long-term viability of the “do good” component of consumer decision-making?

I have concerns about the authenticity of similar efforts. I like to think that consumers are voting with their wallets and will support brands that really do good, but the research shows that the simple perception of doing good is sufficient.

James Tenser
BrainTrust

I appreciate the premise, and I believe “conscious consumption” will be a win for Zappos. The jarring part, for me, is the implication that non-Goods for Good products in the assortment are therefore morally inferior.

Mark Price
BrainTrust

The appeal of these sorts of offerings falls squarely into the needs of Millennials. The key factor is that there is not a tradeoff in functionality, fit, style for the “do good” benefit. Accumulating these brands seems to be a solid proposition and will have a fallout effort of associating Zappos as a whole with a good for the world/environment benefit.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

I believe that consumers really care about the social impact of their purchases and Zappos is spot-on with their approach. Toms has proven that giving back makes good business and social sense. There is a niche market of people who are aware of the social implications of their purchases and would rather channel their disposable income somewhere where it will give them the satisfaction of contributing to the greater good of society.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

It’s a good headline getting strategy. But I’ll predict it will have a short life. Among the major issues here? This idea shouts “use more plastic” and no matter how much they claim to use recycled materials, they will use more plastic in order to build these products.

And, in the long run, people care first and foremost about good products … then will like to buy those which fit their ethical hopes.

So it’s probably a nice thing to do, involves serious questions about whether it matters, and in the end will close up sooner rather than later.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Zappos is already a beloved brand by its customers. Some of them are true evangelists for the brand. Adding a purpose-driven platform is completely congruent with their reputation and will only further their cause to be customer-centric and community minded.

Brad Johnson
Guest
18 days 10 hours ago

It’s a good idea in theory, but executed poorly. They should’ve incorporated this concept into their main site instead of building a separate/disconnected one. The standalone site is also very clunky, and difficult to navigate.

For example, they could’ve updated their categories tab to include “socially-conscious” or whatever they want to call it, and also update their search filters to include terms like “charity/donation,” “recycled,” etc. to help people find these products more easily.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Zappos hit the bullseye, as consumers want to feel good about the products and companies they support. "
"I like that Zappos is positioning this as a section of their parent site; it gives consumers a way to organize choices on their terms."
"Adding a purpose-driven platform is completely congruent with their reputation and will only further their cause to be customer-centric and community minded."

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