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How Sustainable Franchise Concepts Influence Culture

Franchising and sustainability are increasingly being uttered in the same conversations among franchise prospects and franchisors alike.

Environmentally friendly franchise business concepts provide those seeking a pathway to entrepreneurship with an opportunity to become a profitable business owner – and not at the expense of the planet.

Critical to the success of sustainable franchise concepts is awareness and adoption among consumers. A larger societal culture geared toward sustainability is built when people share a common belief in the importance of leading environmentally conscious lifestyles and acting accordingly.

The cultural shift is already underway.

How Consumers Feel about Sustainability

Across national boundaries, gender lines and generations, there is a shared concern over the well-being of the environment.


Research from Nielsen showed that more than eight in 10 consumers around the world strongly feel that businesses should aid in improving the environment. Many consumers are worried about a range of issues – air and water pollution, packaging and food waste, water shortages and the use of pesticides.

Consumers are voicing support for sustainable business models heard through their wallets as well. A recent study from the New York University Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business reported a 29 percent increase in sales between 2013 and 2018 for consumer packaged goods that are marketed as sustainable. Meanwhile, sales of sustainable products are predicted to grow to roughly $140.5 billion by 2023 – up from $113.9 billion in 2018.

In a retail apparel setting, resale concepts have seen equally impressive growth in consumer demand. As of 2018, the resale market was valued at $24 billion, and it’s expected only to grow. The shift from traditional retailers to resale concepts is due in large part to a growing segment of the population that prefers to buy from eco-friendly brands.

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Companies that have traditionally turned away from investing in sustainability are now witnessing how consumers are making their purchasing decisions based on whether products or business practices have a positive or negative impact on the environment. And they’re running to catch up.

Part and parcel of the shift toward green business models, franchisees within the Winmark network of franchise brands have been building a consumer culture in which sustainability is a top priority for the past three decades.

Resale Franchise Economy as a Cultural Force

A challenge that many businesses face in cultivating a culture founded on sustainability is shifting from the traditional consume-and-throw-away mindset that the majority of businesses operate within.

Harvard University’s Office for Sustainability highlighted several key principles to support that shift to a sustainable culture. A few of them include:

  • Supporting and empowering the community
  • Strong leadership and goals
  • Fostering change with tools and resources
  • Rewarding and recognizing behaviors that support sustainable initiatives

The buy-and-sell business model that all of the Winmark franchise brands operate within is modeled to address virtually every element that supports a sustainable culture. For example, we support and empower the community to sell their gently used items, including clothes, toys, musical instruments and gear, athletic equipment and more. At the same time, consumers are able to buy these items at a much-reduced cost as compared to the original retail value.

By doing so, customers within the community are helping to prevent a massive amount of waste from heading to landfills. In fact, the five Winmark resale franchise brands saved 151,750,000 million items from landfills in 2018 alone. Our goal is to continuously increase the number of items we’re able to keep from being wasted.

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Our franchise business model is engineered to encourage customers to make sustainability a part of their lives by rewarding them in multiple ways. First, customers are able to earn cash on the spot for trading in their gently used items. Second, we have a rewards app that allows customers to earn points and gifts for every purchase they make at a Winmark store. The app also rewards customers on their birthdays and helps to keep customers coming back through automated campaigns.

With more than 1,250 resale franchise locations across North America, we are a leader in the resale industry and have worked diligently to grow our footprint of environmentally friendly businesses. With every location we add, the greater the opportunity for our brand and franchisees to be stewards of the green economy and empower communities to engage in sustainable consumerism.

Interested in learning more about a franchise opportunity built around sustainability? Get started by downloading any of our franchise reports for free.