What is New Consumption ?
Founder & CEO, Naadam
Founder of Naadam, US market leader in authentic and sustainable cashmere directly delivered to consumers
Who are these new consumers?
The new consumer is consuming content and spending money via technology at a rapid yet ever changing pace. The Millennial and Gen Z demographics are driving a massive shift in consumer power in the US and the consequences are upending nearly every industry. Members of this consumer demographic have individual, digital, and brand identities piecing together a patchwork of performative values based on brand choices. Consumer choices indicate a person’s social, political, and economic identity forcing a level of transparency across business ethics, financial statements, and fair labor practices. Fundamentally, the modern consumer is a conscious consumer, motivated by unparalleled access to information across a diverse range of unverified media sources.
What type of identity matters?
The identity that matters in this consumer landscape is the marketable identity. Marketing behaviors have become so sophisticated that most people think that their iPhones are listening to them. The reality is perhaps a lot bigger; the technology platforms that market consumer products have become predictive, thousands of data points connect a person’s timeline of digital behaviors to targeted product recommendations. If you use the internet and have one of a dozen different online platform identities, then you are infinitely trackable and marketable. The best consumer identity is one you can follow.
How important is sustainability in modern consumption?
I think that the idea of sustainability in modern consumption is crucial and represents the best of our modern value system, yet it needs time to develop. There is a lot wrong with sustainability in its current format: major environmental impact has been offset by greenwashing and misinformation. The bottom line is that sustainability is very important in completing the full picture of a modern consumers psychology; but the actual work that gets done is far from perfect. Some of the disparity is in fact unavoidable, people’s expectations have outpaced technology, global transparency and the operations and systems that would fulfill consumer demand. The next generation of entrepreneurs and their actions will be crucial in continually developing the role of sustainability in our modern economy.
How do you manage supply chain in this new environment?
Sustainability has a dual function; its primary purpose is to alter the impact of businesses on our climate, yet the function of a supply chain rarely overlaps directly with the desire to be sustainable, and the costs to either right size your operations or increase your efforts are higher than most business can bare. I think it’s important that businesses seeking to manage their impact on the environment first define the areas of sustainability that line up with their corporate value system. Not every business can or will impact the full spectrum of sustainable values (I.e., environmental impact vs. social responsibility). There are many areas within a supply chain that can be improved to manage climate impact and there are many areas that can be improved to impact social responsibility, yet not all business can equally impact both and in my opinion it’s nearly impossible to do either perfectly. Thus, defining sustainability at the corporate level and setting meaningful, but realistic goals in a public and transparent format is critical.