WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fifty-four percent of shoppers demonstrated that they actively consider environmental sustainability characteristics in their buying decisions, according to a new study released today by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and Deloitte. But while shoppers are often thinking green, they actually bought green products on just 22 percent of their shopping trips. More than 6,400 shopper intercept interviews were conducted for the survey, which is the basis of a larger GMA-Deloitte report released today titled Finding the Green in Today’s Shoppers: Sustainability Trends and New Shopper Insights. The full report can be downloaded at the following link: www.gmabrands.com/publications/greenshopper09.pdf.
“This study marries two of the consumer product industry’s top priorities: meeting the needs of consumers and reducing our environmental footprint,” said Elliott Penner, Reckitt Benckiser president of food products and GMA Sustainability Task Force leader. “Understanding consumer expectations and shopping behavior are critical to the development of the industry’s overall strategy on environmental sustainability.”
“We found that for most shoppers, sustainable considerations are an important tie-breaker when deciding between two otherwise equal products and they are a driver in product switching,” said Brian Lynch, GMA director of sales and sales promotion. “But it’s not enough to just put green products on the shelf. We have to better educate consumers and leverage in-store communication to make the sale.”
Most shoppers surveyed, 95 percent, are open to considering green products, 67 percent of shoppers looked for green products, only 47 percent actually found them and 22 percent purchased some green products on their shopping trip, highlighting the need for better shopper marketing programs to close the gap. Sometimes concerns about product performance and credibility of the environmental claims are the reasons shoppers opt not to buy green products, but more often communication and product education are the biggest obstacles. The study also found that a significant minority of committed and proactive green shoppers will pay a premium for sustainable products; however, the larger potential population of shoppers that lean toward green want price and performance parity for sustainable products because it is not their dominant purchase driver.
“Sustainable product characteristics are emerging as an important brand differentiator, but to capture the potential market value of green shoppers, retailers and manufacturers must do a better job of communicating the sustainable attributes behind the products to show the value of buying green to the shopper,” noted Scott Bearse, director and retail leader of Deloitte LLP’s Enterprise Sustainability group. “Consistent, aligned messaging in stores, online and at other touch points will be essential to converting shoppers from simply being interested in green to buying green.”
Additional key learnings from the study include:
- Demographically, green shoppers are diversely spread along all income ranges, age brackets, education levels and various household sizes. On average, green shoppers tend to be older, have higher income and are more educated, but they can be found across the consumer population.
- Green shoppers represent a high value segment that buy more products on each trip and visit the store more regularly.
- Green shoppers are less price sensitive than the average shopper and they are generally not bargain hunters.
This report follows two previously released GMA-Deloitte reports on sustainability:
- Sustainability: Balancing Opportunity and Risk in the Consumer Products Industry (2007): www.gmaonline.org/publications/docs/2007/US_CB_GMASustainabilityExecSummary_062007.pdf
- Sustainability: From the Boardroom to the Breakroom (2008): www.gmabrands.com/publications/SustainabilityBoardroom.pdf