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Are sustainability and saving money mutually exclusive?

Can you be cost-conscious and still make sustainable choices in grocery shopping? Despite declining importance, over one in four (27%) consumers still prioritise sustainability when buying groceries. Find out how shoppers are finding ways to be price savvy and sustainable in our latest report.

Louisa Moore Consultant 16/02/2023

Whilst sustainability has declined in importance when buying grocery products (from 35% in Q3 ’21 to 28% in Q3 ’22), consumers are continuing to act sustainably, albeit through different methods, mostly in resilience to the cost-of-living crisis.

Even though grocery decisions have become increasingly dictated by price, with its importance increasing from 66% last year to 77% currently, results show that shoppers have found ways to still be savvy and save the planet.

However, consumers take unique measures depending on their personal financial situations, with stark differences between those unaffected by the current economic problems (Insulated) and those cutting all expenditures (Sufferers).

Different approaches to sustainable shopping

Due to the increased financial pressures which they are under, Sufferers are more willing to compromise on sustainability to save money (37%) and therefore, behave in a more price-conscious manner. Nevertheless, a fifth of this group are influenced by their desire to be sustainable when grocery shopping, demonstrating that sustainability and saving money are not mutually exclusive.

This audience are most likely to be…

  • Buying wonky goods (54%)
  • Buying loose goods (43%)
  • Buying in bulk (30%)
  • Creating meal plans and freezing perishable goods (46%)

Although equally influenced by sustainability, Insulated consumers have a distinct approach towards their sustainable grocery shopping. Largely unaffected by current economic problems, price has decreased in importance amongst this group (69% in Q3 2021 to 63% to Q3 2022), making them less constrained by cost considerations. As a result, they are most likely to…

  • Buy locally produced products (29%)
  • Only buy products from manufacturers with good sustainability credentials (14%)

63% of Insulated consumers would be willing to spend more on groceries to be sustainable, compared to 37% of Sufferers. They are also least willing to compromise on locally sourced products (26%) and also sustainability (22%).

Appetite for sustainable products

Whilst price remains top of mind, there is still appetite for sustainable products, as over one in four (27%) consumers feel sustainability is an important factor in their grocery choices.

However, not all sustainability practices are accessible to everyone: some consumers are able and willing to put sustainability ahead of price, but the majority would sacrifice the former in favour of the latter.

Therefore, the task for brands in the current climate is to provide more cost-effective sustainable options, rewarding customers for making choices that benefit the planet, without forgetting those who both want to and have the means to put sustainability first.

It is critical for brands to fully understand where their customers and target audiences stand when it comes to sustainability; understanding what matters to them, as well as their willingness and ability to act on those sustainability preferences.

Unlock the secrets of the grocery industry in our latest eBook below, which delves into the key sector trends and customer behaviours from the last quarter.

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