Microsoft’s Bing has made a big leap into sustainable shopping by creating its Ethical Shopping Hub. This new online retail search engine gives its users the opportunity to search exclusively for ethically produced, ecologically friendly products.
Though aimed predominantly at fashion shoppers, the ethical shopping hub has the potential to bring new customers to many different types of businesses that often struggle to expand their customer base.
It also allows Microsoft and Bing to grow their own user base and increase their search engine’s share of the market. Here is a guide to what Bing’s ethical shopping hub does and why Bing has created a sustainable shopping search engine.
Helping Consumers to Make Ethical Choices
When Microsoft’s Bing first announced it was launching an ethical shopping hub late in 2021 it stated its primary goals were to offer consumers a way to shop with purpose and search exclusively for sustainable, ethically conscious products.
For the first time, consumers were given the chance to filter the results of their shopping searches by criteria like fair-trade fashion, eco-friendly, and upcycled. Conscious consumption is an expanding area of the retail market, especially in fashion. This new way to search for products was well-timed to satisfy a rapidly growing consumer need.
Initially, the service was only available to users in the UK as a test market, but the success of the service has led Microsoft to bring the ethical shopping hub to US and Canadian users early this year. Now more consumers than ever are using Bing to source ethically produced products and identify manufacturers that operate in an eco-friendly way.
The service uses ratings from Good On You, an organization that scores businesses based on their environmental and ethical practices. Bing uses this data to rate individual products and give consumers accurate information about the company they are buying these products from.
The Ethical Shopping Hub has been a big hit for Bing. The search engine industry is dominated by Google, which performs a huge percentage of all web searches. Bing and other web search providers have been looking for new ways to challenge Google’s hegemony, and it appears they may have found one.
Becoming the de facto destination for ethical shoppers has helped to drive a new wave of consumers to Bing, and many are using it for more than ethical shopping. Their new hub is acting like bait on the end of a fishing line, reeling in new users for the rest of Microsoft’s services with the promise of easy and ethical shopping.
The success of the new shopping platform is evident from Bing’s almost instant rollout of the hub to new territories. Shoppers in the United Kingdom only had a few months of exclusivity before Bing announced that the service would go live in the United States and Canada on Earth Day in April 2022.
They also added new features, such as ‘Vegan’ as a search category. Vegans have been looking for a way to search for fashion and beauty products that are vegan-friendly for some time, and soon Bing will become their first destination for shopping queries.
Vegans are a constantly growing customer base and a community that shares information and shopping tips across social media. There are more than just ethical motivations behind the expansion of Bing’s ethical shopping hub. It has the potential to grow its user base by tapping into communities that are underserved by Google and Amazon.
Bing not only updated their search criteria to accommodate ethical shopping, but it also revamped and updated the user experience. This was undoubtedly done to make the most of the sudden surge in searches and new users that they were expecting.
New Bing users drawn in by the ethical shopping hub were greeted with a modern retail search engine that made it easy to get additional information on the products. The user interface was made simpler and more intuitive for new customers, giving them even more reasons to stick with Bing and use it for other types of search queries.
Microsoft has also brought the ethical shopping experience to other parts of its digital ecosystem to expand the hub’s reach. Standard searches on Bing will promote ethical hub search results if they match the search query. This brings new customers to both Bing and ethical shopping. Search queries on Bing for products like sneakers, for example, have ethical options offered alongside standard search results, and the hub itself is promoted to the user.
Bing’s ethical shopping hub allows consumers to align their values with their shopping choices and use companies that match their concerns and interests. This is generating valuable consumer data on a demographic that can often be tough to advertise to, creating a dataset that Microsoft can sell to advertisers to use for market research.
Ethical Data Analytics
Data is one of the most precious resources on the planet. By analyzing consumer-generated data, businesses can gain incredible insights into how their customers search for products, and how they spend their money.
Utilizing this data has the power to send sales surging and swell customer numbers. Bing is collecting a vast amount of data on a consumer group that is young, professional, and has disposable income. Ethical shoppers, vegans, and eco-conscious consumers have been historically difficult to market products and services to. Their ethical and ecological standards often prevent them from buying mass-market products or engaging with most advertising.
The user data the ethical shopping hub is generating will allow businesses to market to this community more effectively and create campaigns and strategies that connect ethical products to consumers.
Bing’s ethical shopping hub has been remarkably successful in a short amount of time. By tapping into a growing consumer base that was being neglected by its competitors, Microsoft has managed to increase its market share in spite of Google’s dominance.
Specializing in these types of searches is a way to offer consumers something Google does not, which is the only way to challenge the search giant and siphon off a portion of its users.