It is increasingly apparent that Australian consumers’ spending habits are changing, with a recent report demonstrating that 9-in-10 Australians are more likely to purchase ethical and sustainable products. With retail shopping in Victoria and New South Wales moving from the online space back into real life, we’ve been looking at how these trends intersect with the other key ingredients behind one of Australia’s longest running and most successful social enterprises.
While many ventures have had success in recent years with a model based on social good, few (if any) have a strong and loyal local customer base which is comparable to Melbourne’s LoveLuvo. This is due to an uncompromising approach to quality alongside an agile business model built on solid principles.
The result is a decade of success in which organic growth comes from each new customer who walks through the door – almost all of them return, and they bring their friends. It’s the perfect model for sustainable growth: every customer becomes an ambassador.
The Two Greatest Needs of Our Time
Originally from the UK, Anouska Lyons has been a Melbourne local for many years now.
“I loved the windows and went in initially to buy a gift for someone” she reports, describing how she first encountered LoveLuvo. “Then I saw they did refills and I haven’t looked back. I love to buy local where I can, I love to send gifts that are made in Australia and now I only use refills for my household toiletries and cleaning. I also find the refills to be cost effective.”
While the refill aspect keeps Anouska coming back, the ecofriendly and social good aspects aren’t the only draw – product quality and consistency are just as important.
“The Lavender Hand Wash is so lovely – we have 3 kids and I’m constantly washing my hands. They are never dry and I just love the smell. I also love the Vinegar Magic Spray - I love that it’s natural but absolutely gets the job done. It’s nice cleaning the shower and not breathing in all the chemicals you’d normally get from other cleaners.
“I have literally replaced all items in my house with the equivalent at LoveLuvo. I didn’t even think about whether it would be nice, I just loved the idea of refills and I have NEVER been disappointed with the quality. The combination of environmental, quality, luxurious and ease of purchase with great service is a win for me every time.”
Unique value is provided through a holistic 360 degree approach.
“I love the incredible marriage of environmental and community ethics. It’s important to be discreet in some respects and allow the staff and products to speak for themselves. So many places get one right but LoveLuvo has managed to serve the two greatest needs of our time. I love the community at LoveLuvo and love going into the shop. I never go down the cosmetic or household aisle of the supermarkets anymore and that is a really great feeling!”.
Local Leadership, Global Sustainability
Sarah Gowers is another West Melbourne local who became an informal ambassador for LoveLuvo after discovering the brand by chance.
“I was gifted some items from LoveLuvo from a friend who runs a local business (Holistic Sister) and she mentioned the refillable household items, which stood out to me, knowing how much plastic from household cleaning and bathroom products ends up in landfill. I took myself in a few days later and have been shopping there ever since.”
Sarah is yet another example of how quality aligns with social and environmental impact as a core element in the 2021 version of a successful buyer’s journey.
“Firstly I’m passionate about supporting local businesses, especially during the last year. Knowing that I’m supporting local families and local community members makes me feel good about shopping there. Really it ticks all the boxes for responsible consumerism – an environmentally conscious social enterprise that is locally run by local people – I can’t think of a reason not to shop here.”
Regarding the brand’s mission of providing work to those with barriers to employment, “I wasn’t aware the first time I went in” admits Sarah. “I found out when the staff member working put a leaflet in my shopping bag about the positive social impact the store has on the community and its employees.”
A clear demonstration of how important it is for brands to tell their story – not just the how, but the why.
“I know that it’s all fair trade and ethically sourced, with no animal testing or child labour used, and fair wages paid. I’ve never seen a product in there with palm oil in it, so I’m assuming that’s an ethical and environmental consideration. I am someone that if I like (or dislike) something, I will research it and find out more – so I find this info out for myself and know where to look to do so.
“It appeals to my sense of responsible spending – you quite often don’t think about (or want to think about) the ethical impact you have by buying supermarket products from the majority of household brands. The fact that you can have a positive impact by shopping at LoveLuvo makes the experience a whole lot less ‘icky’. I’m mainly compelled by the fact that I know my money will be doing some good. I never get buyer’s remorse that you might get at larger chains.”
“I’m a huge believer in paying it forward – I feel an extreme sense of privilege to live where and how I do, it’s of the utmost importance to me that I do the right thing by people and the planet. LoveLuvo makes me feel like I’m doing my bit – I can shop there without a conscience.”
While the feelgood aspects of shopping ethically are important, quality again comes to the fore. Customer service is another crucial aspect.
“The quality of the products I’ve got is always high and the staff are always extremely friendly. The refillables are dreamy – the Kitchen Degreaser is second to none. Like actually magical.”
It’s more apparent than ever that consumers are tired of the ‘over-promise, under-deliver’ approach which is increasingly present across so many aspects of business and commerce. This is why they are turning to brands like LoveLuvo in droves.
Much of what keeps customers coming back is this holistic approach to business – whether it’s providing opportunities for people with barriers to employment, or the broader aspect of providing sustainable products which are not just environmentally-friendly but innovative in production and diverse in terms of the people involved.
The days of cynical “Greenwashing” are over – and there’s more room than ever for brands who are prepared to be real. This is a core value of LoveLuvo, and one which canny retail brands would do well to consider if they aim to stay relevant with consumer desires.
By Cormac Sheehan