Small businesses ramp up eco-friendly offering in response to consumer demand


Small business owners have embraced the importance of being environmentally-friendly after 57% report seeing an increase in customers demanding an eco-friendly offering since starting their business, according to new research.

Over half of the 500 small business owners surveyed say they have made changes to offer more eco-friendly products and services, inspired not only by customer demand but also their own passion for the environment or simply after being inspired by other small business owners.

These changes have proved positive for entrepreneurs, with 80% stating their customers were pleased with the environmentally-friendly changes and over half confirming an increase in profits as a result.

The research, carried out by American Express in its role as founder and principal supporter of Small Business Saturday, found that small businesses are also implementing policies to ensure the environmentally-friendly commitment runs throughout the business. Top eco-policies being implemented include careful management of waste, recycling boxes, sustainable office supplies and locally sourced products.

This desire to be more eco-friendly is set to be evident this festive season, with one in two Brits saying they are keener to be environmentally-friendly this Christmas than they were last year. Over half (54%) say this change has come about as they are now more aware of the impact of their choices.

Zoe Anderson, owner of independent lifestyle store W.A. Green in London’s Shoreditch, comments, “We’ve definitely noticed our customers becoming increasingly conscious of where the items they buy come from, and seeking out products that can help them be a little more environmentally-friendly. Lots of the items we stock are made from recyclable materials or support the local community in some way, and I’m always happy to tell people more about them!”

For business owners, making eco changes to both stock and business practices have not come without challenges with 44% confirming it was a timely task, but worth it. Approximately a third of small businesses are considering making eco changes but are yet to implement, with concern around cost, other priorities or just a lack of knowledge given as barriers to start, however they are considering it.

Thelma De La Pena, VP at American Express said: “We have seen that small businesses are reacting to consumer appetite for eco-conscious shopping and dining as they seek to implement changes in the way they operate and the goods and services they offer. However it goes deeper than that, with many small business owners making these changes out of a real passion for the environment, meaning they can offer customers a personal connection to the cause and genuine advice on which products to choose and why. We’re supporting businesses such as these ahead of Small Business Saturday this year to encourage more consumers to seek out the great options available in the local, independent stores that are at the heart of their local community.”