Mind The Gap: US shoppers apathetic on sustainability compared to Europeans
Sustainability continues to be a hot topic at TBP Towers.
Indeed, we have recently conducted our own consumer research on sustainability and FMCG packaging in the US and Europe – a sequel to our 2011 UK study The semiotics of sustainability.
Our latest round of research builds upon previous learnings, and widens the net to explore attitudes towards sustainability across both Europe and North America.
After conducting interviews in the US, UK, Germany and Italy that delved into real shopper behaviour at the shelf, it became apparent that consumer attitudes and behaviours towards sustainability in store differ between markets – and are distinctly dissimilar across the pond.
Not surprisingly, the most ‘sustainability aware’ market is Germany, where the significant social pressure to lead a sustainable lifestyle means consumers are more sensitive to sustainable brands and packaging in-store.
The least aware consumers are in the US, as they tend to overlook products with ‘sustainable’ credentials in-store for two key reasons: firstly because sustainable products are isolated in separate aisles in US supermarkets (requiring consumers to consciously seek them out), and secondly because there is a general lack of knowledge amongst consumers about the benefits of sustainable production.
In spite of differences in consumer behaviour in-store however, there are many commonalities across Europe and North America when it comes to sustainable packaging codes.
Indeed, throughout the four markets, the ‘less is more’ code is an easy rule of thumb for many – and thus muted, natural colourways and natural imagery are seen as key ‘indicators’ of sustainability on-pack.
Interestingly however, the word ‘sustainability’ itself still lacks a clear meaning for many consumers, as do the plethora of ‘sustainability’ logos that tend to be placed on-pack.
In addition, we saw time and time again for sustainable packaging in both Europe and North America, is the challenge smaller, sustainable brands have in achieving standout amongst the ‘visual noise’ of bright, vibrant mainstream brands which have multiple facings:
As such – and as ever – it seems there is a key education job to be done in order to get consumers in a ‘sustainable’ mindset before they even approach the shelf.
Keen to know more?
Please click here to read our full Press Release on the study.