Sustainability yes, but only at a fair price

Shoppers bought in 2018 environmentally and price-consciously

07-Jan-2019 - Germany

IRI's European Shopper Survey confirms that consumers will be more conscious in 2018 - 61 percent of younger shoppers look for product information online, preferably on their smartphone.


Seven out of ten European buyers reward sustainability, but just under half (48 percent) do not want to pay more for it. This is the result of the European Shopper Survey by IRI, the expert for big data and technology for the consumer goods industry.

More than 3,300 consumers from seven European countries answered questions about their shopping habits and expectations of food retailers for this study. Among other things, buyers were asked about their preferences for buying products from companies that are perceived as fair and transparent, respect the environment, use recyclable packaging and have short supply chains. Nearly 70 percent of European buyers preferred each of these attributes. For German buyers, these attributes are not quite as important with 60-62 percent approval.

Olly Abotorabi, Senior Regional Insights Manager at IRI, comments: "Purchasers are more conscious of their consumption and are thinking more than ever about the ethical and environmental impact that purchasing can have on the environment. Retailers' commitment to sustainability can be a critical factor in the purchasing decisions of many European consumers. However, price remains an obstacle in certain categories, such as fresh local products. Better communication in the shop and online about product quality could weaken this price barrier for half of the respondents".

Many large retailers have set themselves the goal of reducing CO2 emissions. Such examples seem to be well received by many consumers: 67 percent said they buy products from retailers that use alternative and renewable energy.

IRI's survey also shows the importance of technology and its significant impact on shopping habits, especially among the younger population. Some research suggests that young millennials between the ages of 18 and 24 spend an average of 8.5 hours a day online. IRI's study found that 61 percent of these younger shoppers search online for information and new FMCG products, with more than half using their smartphones as their preferred device.

Abotorabi: "We talk a lot about physical availability when searching for brands. This is important, but the online visibility of product attributes, the transparency and the promotion of these qualities provide an increasingly important platform for shaping and validating the purchasing decisions of younger generations, both in the retail store and on the Internet. Retailers are increasingly able to reach more buyers through geomarketing to increase traffic and influence impulse buying. "

Further topline trends of the European Shopper Survey:

  • Fresh is the best: 29 percent of respondents prefer local brands and locally produced, fresh food. Spain (40%) and Greece (36%) have the highest preference for buying locally produced fresh food, compared to 32% in the country average.
  • Older generations tend to buy local products, while younger millennials - perhaps surprisingly - are less interested in product origin and environmental impacts. The younger millennials tend to buy established, international brands that are perceived as innovative.
  • High expectations: Across all age groups, the top 3 future expectations of shoppers show a clear consensus on delivering products with less plastic packaging (43%), more local in-store brands (43%) and higher product quality (38%). The younger millenials (18-24 years) are demanding improved in-store technologies and more convenient, ready-to-eat food and beverages.

About the study:

The IRI Shopper Insights Report analyses seven European countries (Italy, Greece, Spain, Germany, France, the UK and the Netherlands) as well as South Africa, Australia and New Zealand by key consumer goods industry categories and distribution channels in each country and region. More than 3,300 consumers answered questions about their buying habits and provided insight into the dynamic relationship between local, regional products and those of major international brands. The survey focused on five macro categories - packaged foods, fresh products, beverages, frozen foods and personal & beauty care. Buyer responses were divided into three age groups - young millennials (18-24 years), older millennials (18-24 years), and older millennials.

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