Why business ethics are integral to the retail bottom line

For 21st century consumers, values ​​aren’t something you put aside when you hit the buy button. Members of younger generations experience climate change as a daily reality and a threat to their future and have spent two years navigating a global health crisis and its economic fallout. Maybe that’s why they increasingly reject brands that don’t contribute to the common good.

A recent consumer study of Klarnaa global payment and shopping service, finds that 70% of Gen Z and 73% of Millennials are more likely to buy from retailers with a sustainable or ethical mission.

“Younger generations are voting with their wallets with the aim of bringing about meaningful change,” says Sebastian Siemiatkowski, co-founder and CEO of Klarna. Siemiatkowski sees further evidence of this phenomenon in the extraordinary growth of the Klarna app, which has more than 22 million monthly active users worldwide. Klarna recently rolled out sustainable collections in its application, facilitate consumer access to environmentally friendly fashion. It also has a CO2 tracker providing buyers with their personal carbon impact of their purchases.

“As consumer expectations continue to evolve, it’s critical brands approach values-driven initiatives with clear goals and a long-term plan, rather than throwing money at a value-building problem. short-term picture,” says Siemiatkowski. Airbnb, Alohas, and Cloud Paper are three companies doing just that. Their contributions to humanity make them deserving winners of the first Smooth Move Rewards presented by Klarna and fast business, celebrating the brands that have taken inspired steps over the past year.


Best known for providing great vacation stays, Airbnb is also committed to giving back to local communities. Last June, it launched the Airbnb Community Fund, distributing $100 million to organizations supporting local communities over the next decade. In 2021, the fund awarded grants to more than 150 organizations from more than 40 countries. Recipients include an organization dedicated to preventing child trafficking in northern Thailand, a foundation dedicated to the economic empowerment of rural women in India, and an education provider in Brazil’s Amazon region.

Additionally, in 2021, through the non-profit arm Airbnb.org, Airbnb achieved its goal of providing temporary housing to more than 100,000 people displaced by natural disasters, war, pandemic of COVID-19 and other events. The effort has helped more than 10,000 Afghan refugees resettle.


In a traditional fashion cycle, mountains of unsold clothing are wasted each season, sacrificed on the altar of the Next Big Thing. Barcelona-based Alohas wants to break this cycle. Every week, the company launches a new product and offers pre-orders available at a deep discount for three weeks. Knowing exactly how many units to produce, the company continues to sell the product, albeit at a lower price, throughout the manufacturing process, before ceasing production altogether. With this unique buy-on-demand model, customers get their shoes, apparel, swimwear or accessories without worrying that they contribute to the problem of overproduction.

Alohas is also committed to producing its shoes locally on the Spanish coast and makes it easy for consumers to donate to projects that help reduce the carbon footprint of their purchases.


According to the UN, the world loses nearly 25 million acres of forest land every year. A major driver of this widespread deforestation is paper production, a significant percentage of which is spent on household products, including toilet paper and paper towels.

Seattle-based startup Cloud Paper is doing its part to curb deforestation. Its toilet paper and bamboo-based paper towels have already saved more than 17,000 trees and the brand is just getting started. Initially a B2B company, Cloud Paper expanded into direct-to-consumer retail at the start of the pandemic, and it was an immediate success. With investors such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Cuban and Robert Downey Jr.’s Footprint Coalition, the company is growing rapidly, and so is the bamboo it is made of, which is great news for the people and trees of the world. entire. “Every box of Cloud Paper that comes out is one less box of paper-based products,” says Ryan Fritsch, who co-founded the company. “So the impact happens immediately, and it adds up quickly.”

New approaches taken by Airbnb, Alohas and Cloud Paper prove that what’s good for the planet can also be good for the bottom line. The world of retail is changing rapidly, and so are customer expectations.

Brands looking to build connections and relationships with buyers are also adapting. “The only metrics we care about are those that force us to reflect on and ultimately change the way we operate as a business in a better and more sustainable way and that have a positive impact on the consumer,” notes Siemiatkowski.

To learn more about the winners of this year’s Smoooth Move Awards, click here.

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