Sustainability influences shoppers' choice of retailers, brands & products

One in five shoppers says sustainability, or the lack of, influences their purchase decisions when it comes to retailers, brands and products.

Recent research from Toluna shows that there is a growing concern for sustainability and eco-friendly packaging which has resulted in a shift in consumer behaviour, with environmental concerns driving purchasing decisions.

Brooke Donnelly, CEO, Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) says one of the most powerful things consumers can do to drive change on this issue is to vote at the cash register and support brands that are doing the right thing.

“It's fantastic to see that consumers feel passionate about sustainable packaging,” she enthuses.

“Here in Australia, businesses and governments have committed to implementing the 2025 National Packaging Targets, which includes making all packaging 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

"I'd encourage all Australians to ask their favourite brands what they are doing to meet the 2025 targets and support businesses that are taking practical action to implement them.”

When it comes to shopping sustainably, the most important factors for Australian shoppers are that packaging is recyclable (69 per cent), that there are biodegradable elements (55 per cent) and that the products themselves are made sustainably (54 per cent) and from locally sourced ingredients (54 per cent). While ethically sourced ingredients (37 per cent) and ethical employment practices (32 per cent) were also important, making sustainable purchasing decisions a clear priority for Australian shoppers.

Many Australian shoppers (49%) are looking beyond traditional retailers and supermarkets in a bid to shop more sustainably, choosing instead to shop for sustainable products online, at farmers markets and boutique eco-stores.  

Will Caruso, senior marketing scientist and packaging expert at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Scientist says the findings highlight consumers focus on the environmental impact of product packaging.

“Sales of brands who ignore eco-preferences might not decrease in sales next year (2021), but in the long term brands need to look for more sustainable ways to package their products. It is clear from this research sustainability packaging is becoming a category norm that should not be ignored.”

Sej Patel, country director, Toluna, Australia & New Zealand adds that there has been a significant shift in consumer sentiment.   

“It’s clear that sustainability is a key concern for Australian shoppers and one that is changing the way they make purchasing decisions,” he says.

“Shoppers are more conscious about excess and unnecessary packaging than they were two years ago, and now they’re moving to drop certain brands and products altogether if they don’t meet their expectations. 

“Retailers and brands can no longer to afford to ignore the shifting consumer sentiment. We’re already seeing some brands innovating in this space and the research shows us that making sustainable changes to packaging will help brands win customers; shoppers now expect to see more sustainable options, so brands must deliver or risk losing market share.

"In 2021, it will be more important than ever for businesses to keep track of the ever-changing customer insights and continue to change their offering accordingly.”