Mary Portas calls for retailers to think with 'socially conscious mindset'

Beyond profits, retailers should be thinking with a “socially conscious” mindset when conducting business, Mary Portas, broadcaster and founder of the Portas Agency, has said.

Speaking at the Retail Technology Show in London, Portas told the audience we are the first generation in humanity that’s realised we’re part of the planet, and that economics is a subset of it.

“Business has to make the choice to do good in the world or pump out products at the lowest cost,” she said. “Thoughtfulness and rising social consciousness need to prevail, and they should inform and act as a filter we pass all of our processes through when thinking about how to generate profits.”

Portas went on to tell the audience that it should be up to businesses alone to help realise this change.

“There’s a bigger role that businesses should be performing, one which has the power to inform how we live and work in the future," she continued.

One of Portas’ beliefs is in the kindness economy, one in which people who buy their products are not solely viewed as consumers.

“Retailers should ask themselves whether they are tickling the anxieties of their customer base, or stimulating the ‘us-ness’ concept?” she told attendees.

Explaining this concept, Portas said: “People want to buy something for themselves, but in doing so they want to feel as if they are doing something better for the world at the same time.”

Elaborating further, Portas highlights Patagonia’s Black Friday campaign, which displayed a single jacket in its storefront with a warning ‘not to buy’ – a slogan she believed fed into the broader necessities around the industry and social consciousness around excessive spending.

On fashion, Portas concluded: “We need to realise we don’t need as much stuff.”

The Retail Technology Show is taking place at Kensington Olympia, London on 26 and 27 April 2023.

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