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From price-focused to sustainability-driven

demonstrating value for grocery shoppers' shifting priorities

Are grocery shoppers prioritising sustainability again after the cost-of-living crisis? Our latest Grocery Eye study reveals a shift in focus from prices to sustainability, but is it a universal trend or does it vary depending on individual preferences?

Julie Vigne Senior Research Director 15/10/2023

Grocery shopper priorities are shifting. While the cost-of-living crisis initially drove a strong focus on prices, sustainability is now making a comeback. Although it is clear that when it comes to sustainability one size does not fit all.

Results from our latest Grocery Eye study points to a significant change in consumer behaviour, revealing that sustainability is once again gaining prominence on their agenda. Here, we uncover how and why brands need to respond.

Sustainability back on the agenda?

Sustainability remains a complex topic, both for shoppers and brands. It is really difficult to navigate between shoppers’ positive attitudes and ‘claimed willingness’ to buy more sustainably, as behaviours are not quite matching all the good intentions.

However, with sustainability increasing in importance, we are seeing shoppers make small steps to being more sustainable in the grocery aisles. This suggests the tide might be turning, albeit slowly, driven by an increased interest from shoppers and increased activities from brands and retailers.

Have you introduced (or reintroduced) sustainable activities in your marketing?

Capitalising on a desire for quality

In the short term, ‘affordable sustainability’, allows consumers to get more for their money and minimise waste. This will help drive engagement, especially at point of sale.

But, we also see an opportunity to link sustainability to quality and other associated messages (such as freshness, locally sourced, minimally processed) to justify a potential price premium; as those are aspects shoppers are least likely to be willing to compromise on.

Longer term, initiatives and campaigns that educate consumers about the sustainability credentials of brand and products; will also allow shoppers to better understand the added-value sustainability brings.

Explain to your audience how product quality links to sustainability and why it might come at a premium.

Education, education, education

This will require education. A large group of consumers still feel disengaged with sustainability and maybe a little bit confused as the different aspects of sustainability can be contradictory. Plus, the variety of labels and certifications is often confusing.

Being clear and direct with the consumer is the easiest way to get this message across, and there are some clear examples of brands starting to do this and disrupt the grocery space both at fixture and outside.

How can you disrupt in this space?

At Savanta, we work with our clients to help them grow their categories by navigating food & drink trends and identifying and leveraging key needs, decision drivers and influences at point of sale and beyond, from communications to NPD. If you are on a sustainability journey and believe research could help, why don’t you get in touch? We would be happy to advise you on how to leverage research to inform your sustainability strategy or the many tactics associated with it.

Learn more about the role of sustainability in grocery purchase decisions, download the full report. The Grocery Eye is a quarterly report produced by Savanta to track attitudes and behaviours in the grocery sector. It is based on the views of a nationally representative sample of 500 UK residents.


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