How Sustainability Impacts Consumer Preferences in the Grocery Industry
Contributed by The Ashkin Group
A March 2023 study released by Glow, a research technology company, and NielsenIQ, a global information services company, finds that sustainability in the food and grocery (F&G) industry is becoming more and more imperative.
According to the researchers, "Consumers are increasingly willing to align their purchases with their values" about sustainability. The study, conducted from April 2022 to December 2022, included more than 33,000 respondents. Researchers said the respondents were a representative sample of US consumers based on age, gender, and geography.
Among the key takeaways from the report are the following:
• Sustainability is good for business. Companies focused on sustainability are outpacing their competitors regarding sales and market share.
• Consumers are switching brands based on sustainability. Switching brands based on how sustainability-focused a company is viewed is happening across all market categories, especially among younger consumers.
• Sustainability outweighs cost. With inflation, some consumers are looking for less costly product alternatives. But many consumers won't trade down to a less expensive brand if that organization is not practicing sustainability.
• Sustainability communications matter. The study found that many brands are not getting the recognition they deserve – along with the related market share and profits – because they are not promoting their sustainability practices to consumers.
"We must remember this study focused on the food and grocery industry," says Steve Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group and the professional cleaning industry's leading advocate for sustainability. "Consumers and end-customers may differ on the importance of sustainability by industry. However, F&G is closely connected to the professional cleaning industry. What happens in food and grocery will likely follow very quickly in professional cleaning — if it has not already."
The study supports this view. In F&G, the three sustainability drivers most important in the overall sustainability of a brand are the following:
1. Reducing emissions to slow climate change.
2. Protecting natural resources
3. Protecting wildlife and ecosystems.
"These are among the same key drivers in the professional cleaning industry driving the industry to operate more sustainably as well," says Ashkin.
The full study is available here.