Zero Waste Stores In Malaysia Share Views On Their Business & Market

How are zero waste stores doing, have you wondered?

In recent years, they have started to sweep the country.

From an outsider’s perspective, it looks like demand is increasing.

It is good for the country because it is time for us to work to reduce our impact on the environment.

But then again, would it continue on this path, I wondered.

Do people see these stores as a fad? Or are they the start of a transformative shopping experience?

I asked 3 zero waste stores in the Klang Valley to better address my concerns.

A growing customer base

While there isn’t a specific demographic that zero waste stores meet, it’s mostly moms and housewives who frequent their stores, at least for Liquid Etc and A Bit Less.

NUDE, on the other hand, is seeing more young professionals dating theirs, which makes sense considering they are located in PJ.

Founders of NUDE Zero Waste / Image credit: NUDE

NUDE and A Bit Less both shared that they have a strong customer base, showing that their IG and Facebook followers like around 9,000-11,000.

But throughout their short period of operation, the 3 stores have seen their clientele increase.

“We see our regulars every week, sometimes twice a week, depending on their consumption,” said Cheryl, one of the founders of NUDE.

However, like almost every other business, this trend fell during MCO, pushing them to go online.

“Customers visiting the store have dropped, my rough estimate is 50%?” But we are seeing an increase in online orders, ”said Kai, founder of A Bit Less.

The A Bit Less team and their bulk store / Image credit: A Bit Less

Online shopping is great, but …

The downside is that online shopping, by default, uses packaging.

Most of the time, the packaging uses single-use plastics, which is the opposite of what zero-waste stores represent.

Liquid Etc shared how they worked to deliver their products without single-use plastic packaging with their project called the Roving Refill.

Delivery, zero waste style / Image credit: Liquid Etc

It is a project for their customers to shop safely, conveniently and sustainably.

“We drive to the customer’s door and fill their orders for them. We can also pre-pack their orders in reused containers and deliver to them, ”said Le Zanne, Founder of Liquid Etc.

Innovations like these meet the demands of their customers, but most importantly, they prevent their businesses from shutting down.

We’ve all been zero waste to some extent

The local zero waste Facebook group continues to grow; it already has around 35,000 members who frequently engage with each other on how to live zero waste.

Restaurants, malls and businesses are also starting to adopt greener modifications.

Among the recent ones I have observed, I have observed Sri Nirwana Maju Banana Leaf, such as replacing plastic cutlery with bamboo cutlery and Sunway Pyramid directing food waste from their restaurants to their own compost stations for them to use. people can get their compost for free.

Bamboo cutlery in Nirwana and refillable compost station at Sunway Pyramid

But what do insiders think about this market?

Kai and Cheryl share a similar sentiment about the growing trend, but Le Zanne asks to differ.

“I don’t think there is much of a change in trend, because essentially zero waste reduces the waste that you produce in your life,” she explained.

Le Zanne believes that zero waste has always been a part of our lives as Malaysians, but they are different at different times in our lives.

“When we were younger, we said no to plastic bags. Then two or three years ago he said no to plastic straws. Lately, because of the pandemic, it has replaced disposable masks with reusable fabric masks. “

Cheryl, on the other hand, said that when they first opened NUDE, zero waste still had a very niche and elitist appeal, but that changed over time.

“The myths that zero waste is difficult / expensive / unrealistic are being dispelled every day.”

“The proof is that several new zero waste companies have opened in recent years, which testifies to the fact that the size of the market is increasing,” she said.

As the market for zero waste stores grows, so do their revenue trends.

NUDE and Liquid Etc see an increase in their revenue trend throughout the 1.5-2 years of operation.

A Bit Less, on the other hand, has had its ups and downs that usually occur around the holiday seasons.

The big boys hang on

There are many industries that affect the zero waste market, such as aviation, food service, FCMG, hospitality, retail, oil and gas, and many more.

Their change in packaging, operation and carbon impact all have an impact on market trends for zero waste stores.

All 3 of our zero waste insiders see positive aspects in these industries in terms of how it affects their market.

Kai explained that he recently met with major detergent and beverage manufacturers who are considering including a refill option for their customers.

“As we see an increase in demand for sustainable packaging, manufacturers are also starting to use recycled or biodegradable materials,” adds Le Zanne.

They feel that all of these small industrial changes are contributing to their growth in demand as more and more people begin to see the importance of moving to a zero waste lifestyle.

“This ripple effect will trickle down to consumers and hopefully more organizations will join us in taking more concrete action in protecting the environment,” Cheryl said.

– // –

After learning more about customer, industry, revenue and zero waste movement trends in Malaysia, it’s clear that zero waste stores are here to stay.

Although many of them have popped up in the country in recent years, the rate of closure of these stores is almost nonexistent.

You may have heard of the Frangipani Bulk store closing at The Linc KL, but even that wasn’t due to heavy losses (the owner wanted to spend more time with her kids).

However, as other industries gradually implement more zero waste policies in their businesses, zero waste stores may no longer need to fill this gap, which could threaten their market.

Even so, homeowners are not in too much of a hurry with this competition, as they would like to encourage the zero waste movement to grow throughout Malaysia whether or not they buy from them or not.

  • You can read more about Liquid Etc here and here, A Little Less Here and NUDE here and here.
  • You can read more of what we wrote on zero waste here.

Featured Image Credit: Le Zanne, Founder of Liquid Etc and Kai, Founder of A Bit Less

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Jothi Venkat

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