Though sustainability and climate change have been in the media and on people’s minds for a number of years, we’re really seeing now how these issues are influencing the way consumers make everyday decisions. Within the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) space, it’s now common practice for shoppers to think about waste, sustainability and brand reputation before making their next purchase.
In a recent study, for example, 81% of global respondents believed that it was either “extremely” or “very” important for companies to implement sustainability programs.
And while Millennials top the list of the generation who demands corporate action the most (85%), the other generations aren’t far behind. In the same global survey, 80% of Gen Z (ages 15 – 20) and 79% of Gen X feel that it’s either “extremely” or “very” important that companies implement programs to improve the environment.
Here in the Benelux, with growing consumer disloyalty, 30% of Belgian consumers surveyed stated that they’d be willing to try a new product or switch from their favorite brand if the product was from a socially responsible brand, and 46% said they would switch if the brand was well-known and trusted. 40% would try a new product if it was locally sourced or produced.
While consumers’ demands for sustainable, local and natural products are increasing, so are their demands for products that make our lives easier. As consumers are busier than ever, they need retailers and manufacturers to help them save time in a hectic world. A quarter of Belgian respondents are on the lookout for products that can help make their lives easier, with 23% looking for products that are convenient to use.
This complex demand for products that are convenient, good for you and good for the world, provides tremendous growth opportunities for both retailers and manufacturers who get a combination of these factors right. If companies are able to innovate on good products that are both sustainable and convenient, consumers are even more willing to pay a premium price.
In some cases, however, convenient and sustainable don’t go naturally hand in hand. Ready-made salads with lots of plastic packaging, the short lifespan of ultra-fresh products (risking food waste) and increased transport routes for same-day delivery often contradict each other—but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Many leading companies are already paving the way to replace plastic packaging with recycled paper, to deliver using electric vehicles, or to prevent food waste, and are reaping the benefits. Products or retail formats that can help consumers consume or shop on the go—while still checking the boxes of sustainability—have tremendous growth potential.
So how do you do well by doing good—while still catering to the growing consumer need of convenience? Here are some simple steps to keep in mind:
- Keep convenience at the center of everything you do—but pay attention to the environmental impact. Understand consumers’ pain points, and deliver convenience in a way that makes them feel good about their purchase—from both an ease of use to an ease of conscience perspective.
- Reduce and/or reformulate packaging and ingredients with ones that are both good for you and good for the environment. Be a leading company in eliminating unneeded packaging and waste.
- Revamp the supply chain and/or suppliers. Find partners that are trusted and respected. Reputation—as well as action—matter.
- Update the existing business model to reflect your consumer demand and the market of today. Don’t recycle your business models of yesterday.
- Integrate sustainability into consumer touchpoints and marketing. Consumers care about these things and so should you. Do this by proudly, but accurately, labelling and marketing your products.
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