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Encouraging sustainability in retail through behavioural economics

79 major retailers have set an ambitious goal to reach Net Zero by 2040, and nearly a third of the UK's largest businesses have pledged to eliminate their contribution to carbon emissions by 2050. Behavioural change is a key enabler to the significant value chain transformations required to reduce emissions. Achieving this requires all employees to play a role in encouraging more sustainable behaviours in their customers and colleagues.

We have set out five broad principles that retailers can use to encourage sustainable behaviours.

These principles underpin the top tips outlined in the practical guide for retailers on 'Helping Customers Live Low-Carbon Lifestyles', produced as part of the BRC's Climate Action Roadmap. However, our principles are designed to target a broader audience. They can be used by all employees in the retail space for both customer-facing and internal employee initiatives. These principles can provide valuable insights irrespective of which department employees sit in, whether they are junior staff or marketing executives, the size of the retailer they work for, or which part of the supply chain they belong to. Many are relatively easy to implement, but have the potential to drive significant behavioural change. They can be used as a guide and to spark imagination, but it is up to the reader to choose what is most relevant for them.

The principles are informed by Behavioural Economics and Behavioural Science research, which:

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Aim to understand human behaviour and decision making, namely 'why we do what we do.'

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Unlike standard economic theory, recognise that people use mental shortcuts in their everyday decisions, which lead to biased, irrational, yet predictable behavioural patterns.

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Help us to identify the problem, but also to design behaviourally informed interventions - or 'nudges' - to guide people into making better decisions.

Contact us

Nick Forrest

Nick Forrest

UK Economics Consulting Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7803 617744

Suresh Natarajan

Suresh Natarajan

Behavioural Economics Lead, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7764 958008

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