Investing in sustainable innovation can help brands win a growing market share of spending by increasingly environmentally conscious consumers, new research suggests.

A report from insights consultancy Kantar concludes that 20% of global spend in the FMCG sector is by consumers who care about how brands affect the environment. The study, Who Cares, Who Does?, concludes those brands who burnish their green credentials can both better their bottom line and have a positive impact on the planet.

Consumers are most concerned about packaging

Packaging is top of mind in how to limit environmental impact for most consumers, with plastic waste a particular concern.

The survey of 80,000 people across 19 countries found nearly half of consumers feel personally affected by environmental problems. And 38% of consumers say that their behaviour towards the environment is influenced by other people whose opinions they value, rather than brands or media influencers. Children were cited by 50% of those surveyed as the biggest influence on behaviour, followed by friends (43%) and partners (41%).

The top five measures shoppers consider could be a way for them personally to help reduce waste across a range of categories are all about packaging: 52% want to see packaging that is 100% recycled; 46% want to see biodegradable packaging, and 41% want alternatives to plastic used. Refilling previously used containers in store was cited by 37% of those surveyed, and 31% want to see more deposit schemes for empty packages.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had the effect of focusing many consumers’ minds on the environment, the study finds. One in five shoppers say that since the pandemic began, they have adopted more green habits, and 16% are focusing more on environmental initiatives.

“Our data continues to suggest that innovation to reduce plastic remains an opportunity,” said Natalie Babbage, Global LinkQ Director at Kantar.

But the say-do gap persists

But there remains a gap, the study found, between what shoppers say and what they do. While 87.5% of those surveyed said buying products with reduced packaging matters to them, only 20% are classed as Eco-Actives, people who take regular actions to reduce their packaging waste on a daily basis (although that’s up from 16% in 2019).

“We see Eco Actives favouring products that are natural, or have health benefits, so winning their $382 billion wallet will require brands to appeal to consumers’ lifestyles,” said Babbage.

“Thirty seven percent see manufacturers as the most important stakeholder to limit environmental damage (retailers were considered the least important at 4.2%), but just 22% of the population can name a manufacturer doing a good job when it comes to sustainable initiatives,” she added.

“For brand owners, the study highlights the need to consider what the green shopper sees on the shelf and how truly reusable or recyclable that material is.”

Sourced from Kantar