Impact-driven clients only

At Quest Studio, we are rather selective when it comes to the companies we work with. In our early years, we refused more revenue than we earned. The reason? The projects just didn’t align with our vision. We still believe this is the right way to go. Yes, that means we made it harder on ourselves. There are many difficult decisions that occasionally turn into moral conversations about profitability in business. In short, we believe in the balance of people, planet and profit and supporting a company that does not seek real positive change won’t help that balance.

How Quest Studio drives positive impact

Our Criteria

We’re known for proudly boasting about our exclusive commitment to purpose-driven clients. We strive to stay true to this commitment by having clear criteria and selection process in place. 

For the most part, our clients already have a clear purpose integrated into their business model. Positive impact is a key part of their DNA, such as volunteer platforms, and climate tech solutions. We give priority, although not exclusively, to the following industries: 

Aside from these impact-driven spaces, we also look for verified purpose in other ways. As a certified B Corporation, we rely on the thoroughness of the B Corp certification process.

Additionally, we do not commit ourselves to projects or organizations when we believe:

  • They’ll have a negative impact, causing harm to people and the planet. This includes troubling industries:

– Oil and gas

– Arms, ammunition and conflict

– Tobacco & Gambling 

– That market to children 

– That have controversial or discriminatory stances and/or initiatives.

– Loan sharks

Our Alignment Process

Although most of our clients have an obvious positive impact, we also often receive requests from organizations where the impact focus is less clear. In these cases, we conduct an internal scan, that includes answering the following questions:

  1. Is the organization supported by leadership? How do management and the board look at impact? Are they willing to make a – sometimes radical – change?
  2. Is there a significant disconnect between what they say and what they do? Basically: are they saying they (want to) do more than they actually do?
  3. Do they want us to work on their branding, website, customer experience, etc.? They need to have a clear impact strategy in place. If they do not have an authentic strategy, will they agree on us working with them to develop it?
  4. Lastly, are they a good fit for our team? All of our team members are trained impact-warriors and wouldn’t accept working for a company that doesn’t align with our vision. So if there’s even the slightest doubt, we vote.

Want to drive positive impact?

Quest Studio is on a mission to design a more sustainable future for the planet and people.

Climate vandalism

Over the past few months, climate activists have been gluing themselves to works of art or throwing soup at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. Whether that’s the best way to instigate action for our climate is debatable, but they’ve certainly succeeded in getting attention and proving their point, also thanks to you.

You call them climate vandals. Who are the real climate vandals? The corporations and people who are deliberately destroying our planet, or the climate activists who threw soup at a work of art that was deliberately targeted because it has a protective cover and therefore cannot be damaged?

 

“When was the last time you wrote an open letter to the fossil fuel companies to call them out?”

In fact: when was the last time you wrote an open letter to the fossil fuel companies to call them out? Both in your speech and in your open letter, you give more attention to a group of people who appear to be destroying art than to the group of companies that are destroying our planet. And in doing so, I think you made the message of climate activists loud and clear.

COP27: fighting symptoms vs tackling root causes

 

Newspaper headlines and the world’s governments generally agree in saying that the result was historical. As active players in the sustainability space, we couldn’t hold back our thoughts on the summit. 

Technology will save the world

I firmly believe that technology can save the world. I started my company, Quest Impact Design Studio, because we noticed that the people developing the technologies to save the world sometimes lack the skills to market and scale those solutions. And that’s where we come in.

And the tech-for-good movement is growing very quickly. Despite the looming crisis, investment in climate tech is at an all-time high. But technology alone won’t save us. You say policy is catching up, but it’s happening at a pace that’s far too slow for this crisis. And policymakers shouldn’t be catching up in the first place, they should be acting proactively and with a long-term vision in mind. When people say that politicians are focusing too much on (a future) technology to save the world, what they really mean is that there’s so much that can still be done at the political level, but is just not happening.

Technology is worthless if it’s not implemented at scale. So I’m wondering what percentage of the roofs of our government buildings are equipped with solar panels? And how many government buildings are sufficiently insulated to meet the standards you’ve set for homeowners? In Belgium, we’re facing water shortages, but I read that in 2021 about 167 million liters of water were spilled per day because of leakages. If you want to place your bets on technology to save the world, why doesn’t the Belgian government give a good example?

Collaboration is key

You’re right in saying that collaboration is key, and we need everyone on board. I would add that we need to address problems on a systemic level. We must not just react to issues as they arise. We need to get to the root causes, not just fight the symptoms. And we need to think on a global ecosystem-level, instead of just focusing on our own national interests and technologies.

Why do these activists resort to such drastic means? Because of the government’s inaction. Neither in your letter nor in your speech did I find a critical analysis of this issue. Instead, you try to draw negative attention to it.

To work on a systemic level, you need commitment and collaboration. And what better way to inspire that commitment than to lead by example, acknowledge the systemic issues, and act in a timely and appropriate manner? Until that happens, the climate activist movement will grow and an increasing amount of people will continue to resort to more radical, attention-seeking measures. Because with climate issues and anxiety growing larger day by day, it’s far better to speak (what you might perceive as) too loud than to remain silent.

Kind regards,
Michael

Quest Impact Design Studio

Youth climate activist Clover Hogan speaks about the climate crisis

 

Can we suggest hiring her for the next speech at COP? 

Loss and damage fund: a good step towards climate justice

Let’s start with the good news: the world’s nations finally agreed to set up a loss and damage funding for vulnerable countries stricken by climate disasters. Developing countries have been calling for this kind of fund for decades—and rightfully so. This year alone, floods in Pakistan have affected over 30 million people. In Nigeria, more than 2.5 million people—60% of which are children—are currently at increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning, and malnutrition due to the worst flooding in the last decade

The extent to which these types of countries are impacted by the result is not related to the extent to which they contributed to the problem. It is only fair that the countries and corporations most responsible for the climate crisis make the largest contribution to compensate for the impact. While we agree that this arrangement is a breakthrough in the right direction, here are some considerations:

It’s historical, but also long overdue. 

1. The details of who has to pay X amount and who is entitled to receive X amount have yet to be decided. We can expect this to be a long and arduous process, and can only hope it doesn’t fall through. During COP15 in 2009, developed countries had already committed to mobilizing $100 billion annually by 2020. That promise has been broken. In fact, negotiators have not even fully agreed on how to measure each country’s pledge. Despite not even getting close to the $100 billion, some charities (e.g. Oxfam) and analysts claim the OECD numbers used to measure the wealthy nations’ contributions are highly inflated.

2. We believe that this fund—especially when combined with an unwillingness to act on other fronts—builds on the idea, deeply rooted in Western politics, that money can solve everything. However, the death of millions of people or the loss of unique ecosystems and species cannot be paid for with money. 

3. A loss and damage fund is a critical response to very pressing symptoms such as the climate disasters mentioned above. However, it cannot distract us from tackling the root causes of the problem.

Decarbonization

This brings us to the less positive news. We all know we need to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. This was agreed upon at COP26 in Glasgow, where they also agreed to strengthen their commitments every year since the current commitments weren’t strong enough to reach the 1.5C target.

That definitely didn’t happen at COP27. Instead, some countries tried to renegotiate the 1.5C goal and the resolution to cause emissions to peak by 2025 was deleted.

Some countries, like India, wanted to include a commitment to phase down all fossil fuels, but in the end they didn’t succeed. With 636 oil and gas industry representatives among the summit participants—25% more than in 2021—this shouldn’t be a surprise. The final negotiations also include a provision to boost ‘low-emissions energy’. That might mean wind and solar energy, but it could also mean boosting gas, a polluting fossil fuel.

Fighting symptoms versus tackling the root causes

With the loss and damage fund and the lack of commitments to step away from fossil fuels, we cannot help but feel that the world governments have chosen to fight the symptoms rather than tackle the root causes of the climate crisis.

Ultimately, it’s not about a 1.5C target, it’s about our—and our planet’s—survival. It’s about respecting and protecting human rights worldwide. There is still no sense of urgency whatsoever behind these decisions. The current narrative, at least in western nations, when it comes to the climate crisis is to often mention children and grandchildren to instill this sense of existential dread when thinking about the future. However, millions of children are already dying and suffering from the effects of climate change as we speak.

While setting up a loss and damage fund is definitely a historical breakthrough, it won’t save any of the millions of lives currently at stake. We need bolder, long-term policies and a bigger sense of urgency for that.

We couldn’t have said it better than Yeb Saño, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia: 

When your bathtub is overflowing you turn off the taps, you don’t wait a while and then go out and buy a bigger mop!”

We acknowledge that the piece can come off as quite cynical, but don’t get us wrong: the world leaders’ inaction only motivates us further. At Quest Impact Design Studio, our mission is to make a truly meaningful impact for people, our community and most importantly, our planet. No BS. No greenwashing, only positive impact. Explore our commitments, our impact ecosystem and our work for radical positive change.

Want to drive positive change with us? 

 

At Quest Impact Design Studio, we work toward building a more sustainable future for the planet and people by helping sustainably-minded companies scale and accelerate their impact-driven solutions.

What is SEO content strategy, and why is it important?

According to recent data, 93% of trackable website traffic begins with a search. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the performance and experience of a website to achieve better visibility in the search results of search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. SEO is a great way to generate more traffic, leads, customers, and revenue for your business.

Specifically, SEO is all about ranking in organic search results. In fact, 81% of all Google searchers click on organic results. Organic search is arguably the most valuable marketing channel there is. For this reason, a solid SEO content strategy is essential for any brand or business operating online today. Small. Medium. Large enterprises. Startups. Local businesses. Global brands. And sustainability-conscious organizations, too!

Yes, we know what you are all thinking: SEO is nothing new. And yet, many companies still fail to acknowledge its potential. At Quest, we are on a mission to help scale and accelerate impact-driven businesses, and we truly believe SEO is crucial to stand out in this overcrowded market tainted by greenwashing.

We can help you improve and optimize your online presence and overall website visibility with a customized and impact-driven SEO content strategy.

SEO Content Strategy pillars: Technical SEO, Keyword research and Link building

Local vs International SEO content strategy:  

Mastering SEO effectively can accelerate your impact-driven organization – but adapting your strategy to the right market is crucial. When it comes to SEO, people seem to understand this when there is an obvious language difference. But even when the language remains the same, a one-size-fits-all solution is rarely successful. At Quest, all our solutions are tailor-made to our customer’s needs. 

Local SEO content strategy focuses on overcoming your domestic competition in search engine results. We chose this approach when hired by the U.S.-based  Percent Pledge. Percent Pledge develops customized volunteer programs that are simple, engaging, and transparent. Percent Pledge turned to us to effectively motivate people to volunteer and donate while conveying the company’s fun, yet professional culture. We researched regional keyword opportunities and redefined the organization’s customer journey accordingly. We refreshed the company’s website with SEO-driven copy and multimedia content. Mixed-media imagery is not only central to Percent Pledge’s identity but also a critical factor for visibility in search engine results. 

There are 24 official languages spoken in the European Union alone and up to 200 regional languages. As the world opens up via the internet, various companies are trying to go beyond Europe’s regional fragmentation and market their products and services internationally. This is especially true for B2B businesses, which do not depend on retail distribution and can easily sell their services digitally.

Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) is the only multi-stakeholder organization dedicated to organic cotton. To achieve its goal of becoming the global, trusted go-to authority for organic cotton expertise, Quest Studio developed an international SEO content strategy. International SEO, also known as Global SEO, aims at creating a brand presence and gathering organic traffic from multiple countries. Through extensive keyword research conducted globally, we identified effective content pillars and topic clusters to maximize OCA’s web traffic through strategic internal linking. 

Local SEO is not just more effective for small to medium businesses like Percent Pledge but also works wonders on more homogeneous markets—especially in terms of culture and language—like the US one. While Local SEO focuses on a limited—although highly better targeted—geography, global SEO can open up your business to major international opportunities.

Are you a sustainable business that needs help standing out?

 

At Quest, we can help you scale your impact and accelerate conversions with a tailor-made SEO content strategy. Reach out to our team and help us design the future of impact.

Developing a Content Marketing Strategy

SEO specialists agree that SEO without a proper content marketing strategy is like a body without a soul. Specifically, SEO is strategized around content marketing and content creation, as every website needs copy, articles, keywords, etc. To be successful, the two must go hand in hand.

The foundation of a successful marketing strategy is branding. A solid brand strategy should include clear guidelines on personality, voice, and tone. Successfully conveying your brand identity through your content is critical to achieving your overall marketing goals. At Quest, we create brands that inspire and evoke emotion. Brands that stand out. We make them relevant and recognizable, with compelling and consistent experiences across all touchpoints.

Understanding your customer’s needs and expectations helps you align your content strategy with the addressable needs of your market. When you understand your client’s thoughts and feelings, you can create content that best supports them when they consider your product or service. At Quest, we create digital design experiences finely tuned to the needs of all users, with a minimal impact on our planet and an optimal impact on your business.

In recent years, global sustainability issues have become increasingly compelling. Especially since the UN launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—which redefined the very concept of sustainability—companies have been pressured into rethinking their impact strategies.

However, while sustainability is a major concern in all areas, from energy to food to fashion, many would say it has quickly become just another buzzword. As active players in the sustainability space, Quest Impact Design Studio feels like the word has lost all meaning. Companies, organizations, and brands are all rushing to polish their green credentials to keep themselves relevant, without most having any real interest in sustainability.

Quest Impact Design Studio

As the demand for sustainability has rapidly increased, the number of sustainability agencies, ESG consultancies, climate action firms—you name it—has grown exponentially. But not all sustainable consulting firms are created equal. Some have the right intentions, many are not doing enough, and some are blatantly greenwashing. 

Founded in 2018 to openly combat greenwashing, Quest Impact Design Studio uses strategy and design as a force for good. But why do we call ourselves an impact design studio?

Impact Design

We view positive impact as an all-encompassing approach. While environmental issues are the most impending concern for the greater good, they cannot be the end-all solution. We have to take care of our communities, our people, and the way we run our businesses. For the planet and for people. For us, impact design literally means designing a sustainable future to align planet, people, and profit. We use impact design to build impactful systems that drive change through strategy and design.

We enact and advocate for positive impact by applying design thinking principles. Our Impact Design Thinking approach combines a holistic, customer-centric perspective with a sustainability-focused mindset. We use impact design thinking to develop creative and innovative strategies that are tailored to our client’s business goals and reflect their sustainable consciousness. 

We do this by learning first-hand from our clients. Instead of offering pre-packaged solutions, we take the time to find out what your business really needs. Quest Impact Scan gives organizations a complete overview of their sustainability practice by interviewing employees from all relevant departments. Then, based on user and employee insights, Quest Impact Accelerator aligns business efficiency and profitability: we co-create actionable impact strategies while upholding your company’s bottom line.

What to drive positive impact with us?

Change-making customers only

At Quest, our main KPI is if we are scaling positive impact. That’s why it’s our core policy to provide our expertise only to the “right” customers and projects. Those who truly want to ignite positive change. Ultimately, our work focuses on supporting our customers in growing and accelerating their businesses. It would be counterproductive to support companies whose businesses harm the planet and people. Not to mention that by doing so, we would miss the goals we have set for ourselves. 

That’s why we believe effective communication surrounding sustainable practices should be a priority for all impact-driven companies. Sustainability reporting allows companies to be more transparent and provides stakeholders and customers better insight into performance beyond the bottom line. Quest Impact Reporting helps companies become familiar with different reporting frameworks and standards and select the most relevant one depending on the sector and stakeholders.

As leading impact consultants, we helped Full Cycle design a more impactful brand presence. The California-based biotechnology company addresses three major global issues: plastic pollution, food waste, and climate change by converting organic waste into PHA, a compostable alternative to oil-based plastics. Quest Studio accelerated the company’s brand presence by refreshing its visual identity. The rebranding included simplifying its solutions to reinforce Full Cycle’s image and stance. Ultimately, the new website we developed facilitated the sales process and provided the company with new funds to further accelerate its impactful solutions.

B Corp Certification

B Lab is the nonprofit network transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet. The international network became known for certifying B Corporations, companies that meet high standards of social and environmental impact. As a certified B Corporation, we see the B Corp certification as an opportunity to further harness the power of impact design. As part of this global community of businesses, we are addressing society’s greatest challenges collectively to enact positive change

At Quest, we are committed to continuing to drive the global B Corp initiative forward. Through our Quest B Corp (Re)Certification, we help organizations determine if B Corp certification aligns with their broader impact strategy, providing intensive training and scaling their current social and environmental impact, all while providing full access to expert guidance and tools.

Quest Studio is also part of B Corp Way, a platform that enables businesses to find B Corp consultancies that can help them address impact challenges. As B Lab’s selected partner in Belgium, we offer mentorship focused on scaling impact through services like Radical Transformation and Marketing. 

B Corp certification score icon

Unsure if B Corp is right for your business?

 

As a certified B Corp, we have the privilege of knowing the community from the inside and have experienced the credibility and the power this collective movement is making across the globe.

Quest Impact Academy 

Ultimately, impact design is all about shaping the future of sustainability. We are committed to mentoring and training businesses toward radical transformation. Through our Impact Academy, we create and deliver custom training and keynotes. Our coaching is focused on inspiring and developing an impact-focused mindset in for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. 

In our Impact Design Thinking training, we teach employees how to apply the principles of impact design thinking and customer-centric innovation while considering the impact of an organization’s products and services. We also offer training on how to use business as a force for good. In the session, our experts present the key global trends and impact business models and inspire organizations with best practice examples.

Are you looking for measuring and scaling your sustainability actions?

 

Reach out to our team of sustainability experts and help us design the future of impact.

Years ago, when I was still in school, the term ‘accessibility’ started gaining momentum as this new and hip thing. The design teachers were all about considering color blindness in user interface design, while the developers instructed us to include alt tags while coding for screen readers. A good start to learn about inclusiveness, you’d say! However, I also remember nobody really caring about any of it. Everybody wanted website design to pop, and inclusiveness just wasn’t cool enough. Well, everybody back then was a fool.

During my years as a UX designer and developer, I have learned the crucial importance of inclusiveness, which is so much more than colors and alt text. And accessibility is just the tip of the iceberg. It is all about the people. And more specifically, about (not) missing out on your target audience. That is what we want at Quest – websites to pop for everyone.

What is inclusive design?

Inclusive design is a human-centered design approach that aims to embrace the whole range of human diversity. It considers cultural, social, and other needs, way past those of the perceived ‘average’ user. Inclusive design principles focus on exploring ways of taking into account a full spectrum of people to ultimately accommodate a diverse market and audience. This includes developing different solutions for different needs when necessary.

Universal design vs inclusive design

Accessibility and inclusivity are crucial in making sure that everyone can use a specific product or solution. Accessibility standards take into account a wide variety of (dis)abilities and needs. Variety is a crucial word here. For instance, there are so many ways in which one can be visually impaired: being blind is extremely different from being far-sighted or colorblind. To deal with these kinds of difficulties, UX designers make use of WCAG 2.1 standards (and soon, WCAG 2.2!). Web Content Accessibility Guidelines define how to make Web content fit for people with special needs covering a wide range of impairments, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological.

Universal design refers to the development of a single solution suitable to the greatest extent possible to all people regardless of their age, size, (dis)ability. Developed in 1997, the 7 Principles of Universal Design guide the design of environments, products, and communications. The notion of universal design originally comes from industrial and product design, and only more recently has expanded to include digital solutions and services.

The difference between inclusive design and universal design is the idea that it is possible—and actually preferred—to develop different solutions to respond to the needs of different groups of people, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

Quest Impact Design Studio

Are struggling to make your website more inclusive?

 

Let us guide you toward a more inclusive digital experience that is accessible to everyone.

Hand-in-hand with sustainable web design

For the longest time, it was believed that digital was greener than print. Luckily, there’s now a growing awareness of the negative impact digital products have on the planet. About 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions are coming from the internet every year. To put this into perspective, if the internet was a country, it would be the 7th largest polluter worldwide. Isn’t it crazy that the internet is polluting the environment, and nobody notices it? Thankfully, the latest web design strategies can lower a website’s carbon footprint substantially. Sustainable web design best practices include avoiding unused functionalities in the code or caring about the UX of the CMS.

The number of businesses taking action against the internet’s emissions is on the rise, and sustainable brands such as Organic Basics are taking the issue, particularly to heart. The Denmark-based company showcases a low-impact website view for its eco-friendly apparel label. The low-impact view reduces the regular website footprint by loading images only when actively requested, minimizing data transfer, limiting the amount of light emitted by the screen, and much more. By continuously adapting to reflect the amount of renewable energy it’s running on, the Organic Basics’ low-impact website reduces carbon emissions by up to 70% in comparison to its regular site. Adjustments like this one are not just more environmentally sustainable, but also more inclusive in terms of audience: users who have slower connections will thank you too!

Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi is also setting an example by committing to an all-encompassing sustainable business approach. It is already known as the B Corp Certified company that emphasizes working with innovative factories that ensure fair labor practices and prioritize workers’ input. Yet unknown to most, the company commits to an accessible web presence. Its website “strives to provide an accessible experience for users of all abilities.” Developed with accessibility and sustainability in mind, Cotopaxi’s website follows the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. At the bottom of their web page, users can find an “Accessibility Adjustments” section where they can choose the website’s view most suitable to their needs. The website covers a wide range of accessibility profiles such as seizure-safe, ADHD-friendly, and the possibility to adjust features such as content, colors, and orientation.

Cotopaxi's website inclusive design section

Do you want your website to be more sustainable?

 

Our impact and web design experts can help you tailor a digital strategy that increases your website accessibility while decreasing its carbon footprint.

Inclusiveness every step of the way

Every interface or website developed has multiple phases to go through, and every phase can be inclusive in its own way. When doing analysis work, UX designers can study the audience (which means actually talking to them). When designing an interface, they use their web interaction design expertise. When doing user tests, designers should select users as diverse as possible. Inclusive web design isn’t easy. We are still far from reaching the top of the learning curve, although we made enormous progress since it all started. So, next time you’re showing your amazing new project to your grandparents, be inclusive and make sure they can read the text in the sidebar too!

The magnificent seven are here! We are delighted to announce that Anna Soressi will join Quest as our newest Sustainability Copywriter & Content Marketer.

Skilled writer eager to drive change

A small-town girl with a hectic agenda, Anna set off to find her happy place in this chaotic world. She lived and worked in Italy, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain. As she joins the Quest team, she is coming back to a place where she already left a piece of her heart.

Anna describes herself as an open-minded and outspoken person, two traits that she believes are essential features of her writing skills. During her international experience, she had the chance to explore, both academically and professionally, global sustainability issues, from environmental to social. She got interested in Quest in the first place because she wishes to use her privileged stance to drive positive and impactful change in the world. 

International communicator with a literary flair

Anna majored in Foreign Languages and Literatures, with a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies, and holds a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature and Publishing.

With her eclectic background, Anna is experienced in content development, copywriting, and SEO across a variety of industries from big corporations to dedicated NGOs. She joins Quest after a crucial experience in Barcelona at an impact agency specializing in sustainable food systems. There, she learned that every job can be, and should be, a sustainable job. She now seeks to put her expertise and skills at the service of social impact and development work to help guide and support impactful change, and we believe that Quest is definitely the right place to do so!

Through her sound knowledge of SEO marketing, Anna will be responsible for writing and optimizing content for all possible communication channels for both Quest and its customers. She’ll also play an integral role in defining communication and advertising strategies across several platforms and digital spaces.

Wanderer bookworm

In her free time, Anna makes use of her literary degree, devouring any written content she can find. When she’s not making her way through yet another page, she loves to travel, especially to visit her many international friends and all the places she once called home.

The rise of the resale channels

Already before Covid hit, second-hand fashion had been picking up momentum. Especially younger generations have been hanging about flea markets and garage sales to find the perfect second-hand catch. Resale channels as Vinted, Wallapop, Depop, Vestaire Collective perfectly met the needs of consumers who combined tighter budgets with a desire to be more sustainable.

The pandemic really accelerated the growth of the resale market, which has evolved from being a side business to a golden opportunity brands can’t seem to seize fast enough. Projections say the resale market is set to reach around 77 billion USD by 2025. Enter the opportunity for brands: why would consumers  buy their second-hand Hugo Boss shirt on Vinted, when they can do so on a dedicated Hugo Boss resale channel? 

Hugo Boss’s resale launch included comments that secondhand purchases on average are 44 percent lower in carbon emissions than new purchases. Lululemon announced “a major step toward a circular eco-system” while Target says it is testing resale “in service to deliver on evolving guest needs, value and bold commitments to sustainability”.

  • A greener image? Check.
  • Increased customer loyalty? Check.
  • A higher customer lifetime value? Check.
Resale section in a Patagonia shop
Picture credits: Patagonia

Patagonia leads the way

When it comes to setting up a resale channel, fellow B Corp Patagonia led the way in the sustainable fashion industry by launching Worn Wear in 2017. In an official statement, Patagonia’s board claimed: Worn Wear is a set of tools to help our customers partner with Patagonia to take mutual responsibility to extend the life of the products Patagonia makes and customers purchase. The program provides significant resources for responsible care, repair, reuse and resale, and recycling at the end of a garment’s life.”

As an example setter in the sustainable fashion space, Patagonia got it right: the goal of its program is to celebrate the longevity of their products, and to change the way people think about the clothes they own.

Are you planning on setting up your own resale channel?

 

Our service design experts can help you set up a sound resale channel that optimizes your impact, revenue and customer experience.

4 mistakes to avoid when setting up a resale channel

1 – Forgetting what it’s all about

As active players in the sustainability space, we think reselling products is all about sustainability. It’s about making sure your products are used as long as possible and aren’t thrown away while they are still serviceable.

By using existing products longer, people buy less new products. New goods equal more resources needed, more greenhouse gas emissions and, eventually, more waste.

However, the fundamental goal of most producers, especially when it comes to fast fashion, is to make consumers buy more. Those brands consider their resale channel just another marketing tool to keep consumers engaged so they buy more new products. We know that, ultimately, that’s the catch for many—too many—fashion brands. 

We see brands setting up a resale program and then giving their customers gift cards, vouchers, or discount codes to stimulate participation in the program. Unless these codes or vouchers can only be spent on the resale platform (which is hardly ever the case), this becomes just another way for brands to incentivize their customers to buy new stuff. These brands are missing the whole point of recommerce, to begin with. Can you smell the greenwashing?

2 – Not making it an essential part of the brand’s (impact) strategy

Having a resale program should become an essential part of your business and impact strategy. You need clear goals on how many used items you sell and how that will impact the number of new items you produce and sell. Continuous monitoring and communication will be key as the importance of authenticity, transparency and full traceability will continue to grow in the next few years. Those brands who play their cards right from the start, will be able to turn their resale program into a real long-term differentiator instead of being a one-off gimmick.

3 – Doing more of the same

Resale platforms offer brands a huge opportunity to improve their customer journeys. The potential to create extra touchpoints that stimulate brand loyalty can hardly be overestimated. And yet, we see way too many boring resale channels that all look alike and don’t add any value to the customers’ experience or the brand’s image.

4 – Not using the revenue potential

Some brands are so focused on the marketing potential that they completely downplay the revenue potential. Resale is here to stay and its weight in the shopping landscape will only increase in the following years. So you better have a sustainable, long-term business model that uses the potential of resale optimally by turning it into an important revenue stream.

The European Commission presented a package of European Green Deal sustainable regulations to boost circular business models and empower consumers. An important aspect of this new strategy is to tackle fast fashion, textile waste, and the destruction of unsold items. And of course, there’s also the ethical aspect: textiles need to be produced taking into account all human and labor rights. So what’s this new sustainable regulation about and what does it mean for fashion brands and manufacturers?

The EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles

The goal of the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles is to ensure that by 2030 all textile products sold on the EU market are long-lived and recyclable, free of hazardous substances, made of recycled fibers as much as possible and produced in respect of social rights and the environment. Additional goals are:
  • Tackling the release of microplastics from textiles
  • Ensuring the accuracy of green claims to avoid greenwashing (finally!)
  • Boosting circular business models
  • Making reuse and repair services economically profitable so they become widespread

 

EU measures for fashion

The EU has already proposed a number of specific sustainable regulations for the fashion industry:

  • New design requirements for textiles: a.o. mandatory minimums for the inclusion of recycled fibers, making products longer-lasting and easier to repair and recycle.
  • Banning the destruction of unsold products under certain conditions
  • Clearer product labeling and a Digital Product Passport that contains key information on product circularity and environmental aspects
  • A mandatory EU extended producer responsibility scheme and economic incentives to make products more sustainable
  • Supporting the research, innovations, and investments needed for this transition
  • Calling on companies to reduce the number of collections they launch per year
  • Asking EU member states to adopt favorable taxation measures for the reuse and repair sector.

What does this mean for fashion brands and manufacturers?

This means that the negative impacts of the sector will be monitored more closely from now on. Fashion brands and manufacturers will need to integrate sustainability, circularity, transparency, and traceability into their overall business strategy:

  • Sustainability and circularity: a strong focus on minimizing the environmental footprint of products and on making products more long-lasting, easy to repair and recycle
  • Transparency and traceability: more transparent labels and more transparency on the entire supply chain. We already see a big rise in traceability platforms and apps, using blockchain technology to validate information most of the time. We expect this rise will speed up drastically.

This new EU sustainable regulation also means that the race for big fashion brands to claim a specific sustainability position in the market will become more pressing. We can only hope that this time it doesn’t lead to hollow slogans, but inspires true change. Traceability platforms like TrusTrace and Made2Flow can play an important role in this. By now, I think it has become very clear that the brands that limit themselves to doing the bare minimum will lose their momentum in the long term.

For those pioneering, bold fashion brands that already put circularity, sustainability, ethics, and/or traceability at the core of their business model, this means that the number of (big) competitors will increase tremendously. If you’re one of those companies, now’s the time to define your long-term game plan. You know what’s coming, how are you going to use that to gain a competitive advantage rather than being passed by less ambitious organizations who can spend more on their marketing? We also expect to see a lot of large organizations taking over the pioneering, already sustainable brands. To gain their expertise and their image.

Quest Impact Design Studio

Let’s seize the opportunity

 

You’re a fashion brand and you need help to turn this new regulation into a major competitive advantage? We’re here to help.

Learn from our customers

We’re lucky enough to be working on maximizing the impact of sustainable fashion organizations that are working very hard to positively transform the industry from within:
  • Fashion for Good: the world’s first and biggest sustainable fashion museum and sustainable fashion innovation programme. Fashion for Good searches the globe for the most promising sustainable fashion startups and helps them to scale through (a.o.) an accelerator programme and funding.
  • Global Fashion Agenda: fosters industry collaboration on sustainability in fashion to drive impact. GFA is the organizer of the largest business event on sustainability in fashion, the Global Fashion Summit.
  • New Cotton Project: Twelve pioneering players are working together to demonstrate an entirely circular model for commercial garment production.
  • Organic Cotton Accelerator: OCA wants to unleash organic cotton’s full potential for positive impact. They unite the sector to challenge ‘business as usual’, increase global organic cotton supply, empower organic cotton farmers, and provide a roadmap for systemic change.

So will fast fashion and its negative impact disappear soon?

We can only hope that will be the case, but if we’re honest, we don’t think so. This sustainable regulation is definitely an ambitious step in the right direction, though. We have to give the big players the time to radically shift their business model, while at the same time push them to not settle for industry minimums.

We love the ambition of the EU to stop greenwashing, but it remains unclear how they are going to track this. Who will define the standards and the line between greenwashing and valid information? Last but not least, we would have loved to see more focus on the ethical and social challenges of fast fashion as well. We don’t see enough focus on these aspects when we look at the measures that are proposed now.

Collective action, between different businesses, but also between businesses and governments is the only way to tilt the scale. So in the end, we are feeling optimistic about this major step taken by the EU Commission. A lot of organizations needed this push. Now it’s up to all relevant governments and businesses to take up their responsibility and make sure that all these beautiful words are finally turned into effective actions.

What is a materiality assessment?

A materiality assessment is a process in which a company’s material topics, i.e. its most relevant ESG aspects, are determined. It’s a strategic prioritization exercise used to identify the issues that (can) have the biggest impact on both your company and your stakeholders.

GRI, the Global Reporting Initiative, introduced the concept of materiality into the sustainability reporting context and made it a cornerstone of their reporting framework. The concept has gained popularity ever since.

Why conduct a materiality assessment?

At Quest Impact Design Studio, we see a lot of companies start with a materiality assessment when they want to publish a first impact report. For us, a materiality assessment is a key component of every ESG strategy. It’s the foundation you need to determine the focus of your strategy and the actions needed for implementation. Here’s why:

  • You can’t focus on everything all at once. A materiality assessment helps you to focus your time and money on the most relevant topics for your business and stakeholders.
  • When done right, a materiality assessment links your ESG strategy to your overall business strategy.
  • It allows you to mitigate risks and grasp opportunities when they occur.
  • It offers valuable insights into your position in the market and is the ideal foundation for an ESG differentiation strategy.
  • It allows you to identify key trends that might significantly impact your business and/or stakeholders in the short and long term

Need help with your materiality assessment?

 

Our team of in-house experts knows what it takes to engage your stakeholders, define materialities and build a long-term ESG roadmap.

  • 1

    Understand the context and scope

    To start, it’s important to determine the scope and purpose of the materiality assessment. In this phase, we typically perform a risk assessment and a competitor & sector analysis. We also recommend analyzing the requirements of the reporting frameworks and ratings that are most relevant to your company.

  • 2

    A long list of material topics

    The next step is to compose a long list of material topics. Those topics can include both internal and external aspects of your business. Key criteria for this long list:

    • Your company has to be able to manage and influence the material topic
    • The material topic can have an operational and financial impact on your business
  • 3

    Engage internal and external stakeholders

    The goal of this step is to create a list of all your main internal and external stakeholders and find out what they think should be your main priorities. Surveys are a useful tool, but we always prefer to include in-depth interviews in this step as well because they help to understand the context of the stakeholder better.

  • 4

    The materiality matrix: prioritize and select

    In a workshop with all decision-makers, you analyze all insights from the previous steps and make an informed decision to go from a long list to a final list of material topics. The result is visualized in a clear materiality matrix.

  • 5

    Communicate and monitor

    As a final step, you have to make sure all stakeholders, internal and external, understand your materialities. All relevant internal departments should be engaged around these materialities. They should know which materiality KPIs are tracked and they should be involved in the creation of the roadmap to reach all relevant ESG goals. A materiality matrix is a good tool to visually summarize the materialities for all stakeholders.