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Finding the green in today’s shoppers | Whitepaper

Sustainability trends and new shopper insights



The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) enlisted Deloitte* to conduct a study to examine the behavior of consumers related to the purchase of sustainable products. We conducted a direct study of more than 6,000 shopper experiences in 11 major retailers of varying formats to understand the characteristics of the green shopper and to examine their shopping responses to sustainability issues. We will examine the characteristics and the behaviors of this shopper in greater detail to understand the emerging green shopper and the market opportunity to serve them.

What did we learn from this study?

Finding the green in today’s shoppers“Green Shoppers” may not fit the granola stereotype. Demographically, they are diversely spread along all income ranges, age brackets, education levels and various household sizes. On average green shoppers are a little older, tend to have higher income, and more education, but you will find substantial numbers of green shoppers can be found distributed across the consumer population.

Green shoppers are a great customer target, representing a high value segment who buy more products on each trip, visit the store more regularly, and demonstrate more brand and retailer loyalty in their purchasing behavior. They are active consumers who buy more and shop more often as opposed to the image of an austere minimalist. They are less price sensitive than the average shopper and they are generally not bargain hunters.

Sustainability considerations either drive or influence the buying decisions of more than half the shoppers interviewed in our study. However, for most green shoppers, sustainability considerations are an important purchase driver, but secondary to other dominant purchase drivers. For most shoppers sustainable considerations become a tie-breaker when other factors are in relative parity. Because of this effect, sustainability characteristics drive a relatively large amount of product switching. Once a more sustainable product has captured the shopper’s commitment it tends to create brand stickiness by retaining the shopper’s loyalty through repurchase.

We found that green shoppers are still on a learning curve. They do not always understand the social and environmental benefits and they need help at the point of purchase. They are continuing to be educated by the media and the product information that is available to them. We found the rate of green purchase was very sensitive to the use of in-store communication and information.

A significant minority of committed and proactive green shoppers are willing to pay more for green products, however, the larger potential population of shoppers that lean towards green want price and performance parity for sustainable products because it is not their dominant purchase driver.

We learned that there is an unfulfilled, latent demand for green products that could be realized through increased product development, in-store communication, and product availability. We found that almost all shoppers are open to buying green products and many know what a green product is or found themselves looking for a green product during their shopping trip. Despite the openness and willingness of shoppers to buy these products, only 22 percent of people surveyed purchased a green product in their surveyed shopping experience.

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