Sustainability Counts: 54% Of Grocery Shoppers Favor Greener Brands

Even as shoppers continue to hold back on spending, the evidence that they're thinking greener than ever continues to pile up. The latest is a study from the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Deloitte, which reports that 54% of grocery shoppers say they "actively consider" a brand's sustainability characteristics before tossing them in the basket.

But that doesn't necessarily translate into buying green, and only 22% of the more than 6,400 shoppers interviewed as they left the store that day actually bought a green product on this particular shopping trip.

"One key finding that was an initial surprise was the broad scope of the green shopper demographic," says Brian Lynch, director of sales and sales promotion for the GMA. "We found it particularly interesting that the Baby Boomer demographic achieved the highest concentration of green shoppers in our survey, while younger green shoppers appeared hesitant -- at least for now -- to act on their green ideology when it comes to purchasing decisions."



Lynch was also impressed that so many -- 95% -- say they are open to considering green products, and that 67% looked for green products, while only 47% actually found them.

Sustainability appears to matter most when shoppers are on the fence. Only 2% are so committed that price doesn't matter. "But for most green shoppers, sustainability considerations are an important purchase driver, but secondary to other dominant purchase drivers," the report says. "For most shoppers sustainable considerations become a tie-breaker when other factors are in relative parity. Because of this effect, sustainability characteristics drive a relatively large amount of product switching. Once a more sustainable product has captured the shopper's commitment it tends to create brand stickiness by retaining the shopper's loyalty through repurchase."

Overall, 57% of green purchasers surveyed say they intentionally bought more sustainable products, and 78% of these intentional buyers actually switched to the green product because of its green characteristics.

The survey, conducted outside 11 leading grocery retailers around the country, also found that the green shoppers were heavier shoppers --not the austere minimalists many believe. Not only did green shoppers buy more than their planned purchases, at 29% more than the total surveyed population, they also shop more frequently, "We also found that the most typical green shopper tended to be a routine, weekly shopper. They were also less price-sensitive and more likely to repurchase products."

For marketers, the survey confirmed, the key takeaway is that consumers are missing their green messages. Since 95% of all those surveyed say they would be willing to buy a green product and only 22% do, "it's clear green products are getting lost in the store. A good sustainable product strategy provides clear visibility and selling cues to the shopper to highlight green products in the assortment."

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