How does a business go about building trust with its customers and establishing strong relationships with its investors, business partners and others? It offers them truth and transparency. Here’s the logic: if customers can access information about the products available, they are empowered to make the most sustainable purchasing choices. This in turn gives them confidence to complete their transactions in good faith. By enabling customers to make conscious and responsible choices, H&M Group creates a healthy business environment: the recipe for our improved performance and growth.
H&M Group has a policy of openness when it comes to disclosing where and by whom our products are made. We provide transparent information about our business and value chain through various channels – including our website and annual sustainability report. We believe in sharing our ambitions, challenges, solutions and progress in an open and honest way, maintaining an open dialogue with our various stakeholders. By doing so, we are also able to collaborate effectively with our partners, and be sure to gain mutual trust.
How we help our customers make conscious choices
How then does H&M Group go about offering customers transparency? In 2018, a tightknit team of sustainability experts, IT architects, business developers from throughout the group came up with a solution developed through system integration and automation. We also analysed the results of our in-depth customer research, and having now combined the knowledge gained from that process with our experts’ solution, we have developed a new transparency tool designed to empower our customers to make sustainable choices.
Transparency empowers customer choice
Both H&M and H&M Home are now moving towards greater product transparency. It brings the story behind the product closer to the customer by providing details of:
• the material that a product is made of, including its social and environmental impact and our specific sustainability goals for it
• the factory and location where each product is produced
• how to recycle garments and why it’s important to do so
The above information is now being made available for all our own textiles, footwear and accessories in our online H&M and H&M Home stores. This follows on from the product stories we have shared in recent years for H&M’s Conscious Exclusive collection and ARKET’s regular assortment, for example.
Creating this transparency is a significant step forward, but it doesn’t immediately show how sustainable a product is, so there’s still work to be done. Our aim is to make a stronger positive impact throughout our value chain, which means taking one step further and making our products, resources and environmental impacts measurable and comparable across the industry. We also need to create even greater traceability in our value chain. So what we really need is a common measurement for fashion products that allows consumers to compare in a simple and trusted way. That’s why we have been involved in developing the Higg Index, a standardised holistic suite of tools that will score sustainability performance, making it easier for customers to benchmark brands, manufacturers and individual products so that they can make the most sound choices.
H&M Group is one of the founding members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), the industry-wide alliance that is developing the Higg Index. The idea is for the tool to help create a more transparent and sustainable fashion industry. Aligning all players in the fashion and design industry is quite a challenge and it’s taking longer than expected. But like all good things in life, it’s well worth the wait.