Sustainability still matters to shoppers – despite economic pressures [GfK an NIQ company]
By Trevor Godman and Sam Tuck, GfK an NIQ company
New research from GFK has underlined the importance of consumers’ desire to protect the environment and its growing influence on which companies, brands, and products they choose.
In fact, despite the cost of living crisis, many consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products. The majority of UK consumers – 70% – in GfK’s Consumer Life survey agreed that “It is important that companies take environmentally responsible actions”. Every retailer, manufacturer, and brand owner needs to understand these sentiments and how they impact purchasing behaviour.
GfK’s latest Sustainability Index study revealed that despite economic pressures, 66% of UK shoppers are willing to pay more for major purchases (i.e. domestic appliances) and 56% would pay more for everyday products – if they are sustainable. For some companies, sustainability is already a key part of their ethos, for others, now is the time to review the latest consumer research, identify the opportunities and barriers, and take action.
Across the supply chain, from sourcing to selling, consumers are seeking accountability for sustainable business practices. Almost six in 10 (58%) agree that “It is important that companies responsibly source ingredients/materials”. 39% of UK consumers are interested in buying products with eco-labelling.
With so much information available today from numerous sources, people are choosing brands and products more thoughtfully. Almost two-thirds (61%) of UK consumers say they carefully research brands and one-third (32%) take environmental protection into consideration before making major purchases. However, only 22% believe the eco claims made by companies, possibly as a result of historical corporate greenwashing. To break through this scepticism, sustainability needs to be properly integrated and communicated.
Recycle, refurbish, refill,
The circular economy is gaining momentum, especially among younger consumers who consider it more acceptable and easier on their wallets. The mobile phone market has led the way with reconditioned handsets, and new models sold with repair kits to minimise replacement and landfill. We expect more brands to tap into these trends. For personal and household care, and food, packaging is as important as ethical production. The most desirable types of packaging are biodegradable, compostable and refillable containers.
We compared the results of GfK’s CMO Outlook survey of senior marketers on their sustainability practices with those of consumers. There was a significant disconnect. Just over one-third (38%) of marketing leaders in the UK recognise that customers expect them to address sustainability. Yet for shoppers, the numbers are much higher. Seven in 10 rate climate change and environmental pollution as ‘very or extremely serious’, putting it in the top three of their concerns alongside inflation and having enough money to live and pay the bills. At 32%, almost double the number of consumers expect companies to address environmental issues over the government (17%).
This article is a snapshot of the more detailed research presented in our latest webinar which you can watch on-demand here.