UK Grocery shoppers are more environmentally conscious

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UK consumers are growing more conscious of environmental issues, and quicker to boycott products or switch brands based on environmental reputation.
By Reidar Molthe

5 December 2019 09:35

UK Grocery shoppers are more environmentally conscious

77% of UK grocery shoppers have, in the last 12 months, switched, avoided or boycotted buying certain products, or would consider doing so in the future, based on brands’ environmental policies, shows data from Kantar, a consultancy. That is serious for many old brands.

The insights and consulting firm, Kantar, recently questioned over 1,200 UK consumers between the ages of 16 and 65+ about their concern over a range of environmental issues.

This included their purchasing decisions based on a brand’s sustainability credentials, environmental responsibility and whether, as a consumer, they had ever decided to boycott buying a product or switch to another brand based on its environmental reputation.

Young are least loyal

Brand loyalty was found to be lowest among the youngest age group of 16-24-year-olds with 87% saying they have switched or might do so, with more males (24%) switching or boycotting brands than females (18%). The last maybe surprising; generally, woman are more concerned about environment than men.

Responses differed significantly among generations, with 40% of Millennials (born 1981-1996) saying they have avoided buying or decided to choose a different brand over the last 12 months, compared to only 9% of Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964).

However, 46% of this generation of 55-65+ year-olds indicated that while they hadn’t switched or boycotted brands in the last year because of their environmental credentials, they might consider doing so in the future – the highest among all age groups. That can indicate that environment responsibility is growing fastest in this group.

Business with a purpose

Harsh working conditions, environmental pollution and the overuse of packaging are some of the issue’s consumers think carefully about before purchasing FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods)

76% of consumers stated that more needs to be done by the industry when it comes to publicizing the positive work it is doing to address environmental issues.

Mark Chamberlain, Managing Director of Brand, Kantar UK says:

“Responsible living is being driven by cross-generational groups of ‘woke’ consumers that look towards inspiring brand heroes as change leaders. Governments and organizations are being forced to listen and respond to consumers’ demand for greater transparency as businesses strive to become more purposeful.”

Responsible living is being driven by cross-generational groups of ‘woke’ consumers that look towards inspiring brand heroes as change leaders

Mark Chamberlain, Managing Director of Brand, Kantar UK

Almost 90% of respondents surveyed agreed that brands need to take more responsibility for the waste they produce and the impact it has on our environment.

Too little, too late

Three-quarters of shoppers stated that, due to inaction from many of the world’s governments, they want brands to act as forces for positive change in society.

However, when questioned about their response, over 70% of all consumers agreed that efforts by businesses to protect the environment are ‘too little, too late’, with younger generations of Millennials agreeing most with this statement (78%).

Consumers ranked global warming as their number one environmental concern (25%), followed by the overuse of plastic and other forms of packaging (18%) and then deforestation and the loss of biodiversity (14%).

They appeared less concerned about the depletion of the ozone layer (4%), extraction of fossil fuels from the earth and natural resource exhaustion (5%), overfishing of our seas (6%) and household/industrial waste (8%).

FMCG must take more responsibility

83% of consumers stated that these and many other of today’s environmental issues are caused, in part, by a lack of responsibility taken by some of the world’s leading brands.

Chamberlain concludes:  

  • The rise in responsibility and conscious consumerism is being influenced by mindful consumers. With a growing and stronger voice; as well as voting with their wallets, they push forward environmental and social agendas.
  • Consumers now expect the FMCG industry to be driven by some direction other than simply making a profit. These values are fast becoming key assets in helping boost brand value whilst projecting a positive corporate image, and by doing so businesses can demonstrate a clear sense of purpose. This is what consumers are now looking for in today’s brands, and this preference will only intensify as the next generation comes of age. Purpose-led FMCG brands enjoy stronger growth and a deeper connection with consumers.

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