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This festive period between Black Friday and Christmas is often thought of as the season of indulgence and excess where we consume more than usual. We often make less healthy food choices, buy lots of decorations and party supplies, and treat ourselves (and others) to things we otherwise might not buy during the rest of the year – with the aim of doing better in the new year.
That being said, greener choices and lower carbon lifestyles are not showing any signs of going away.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated green trends, with 93% of people globally saying that it has influenced their views on sustainability.
Eco-anxiety – a term used to describe people’s worry about the impacts of climate change – is getting more and more prevalent with every year that goes by. This month’s COP27 event may also raise further concerns on behalf of consumers in time for Black Friday and Christmas shopping. Therefore, it is only natural that brands and retailers should expect concerns about climate change and the intent to live more sustainability to be at least somewhat mirrored in consumer habits, even in during peak trading periods.
However, inflation is and playing a huge part in determining consumer habits; almost 90% of consumers expect the rising cost of living to have an impact on their festive holiday shopping this year. Many people will be forced to do their Christmas shopping on an ever-shrinking budget. Since the impact of inflation on general livelihood is much more immediate and personal than the cumulative effects of climate change, most people will most likely prioritise price over the more sustainable option (although this is also dependent upon overall household income).
Both price and sustainability are going to be the key drivers for consumers during this peak trading period. But with more sustainable options being thought of as typically higher in price by consumers, retailers have the challenge of striking the right balance between making sustainability resonate with customers, keeping products affordable for the majority, whilst also boosting their bottom line.
The main barriers for consumers when it comes to buying more sustainably is already centred around affordability, alongside it being too complicated or confusing due to lack of information.
Consumers want sustainable choices to be both affordable and accessible; 4 in 5 people would buy more sustainable products if this were the case. Therefore, retailers need to make it easier to make the right choice with prices which encourage sustainable choices alongside correct product-specific information which provides clarity as to why a certain product is the more environmentally-friendly option. This could be achieved via things such as product carbon labelling and clear composition information and recyclability instructions for packaging.
However, communicating genuine messaging about a specific products’ sustainability can only be achieved if retailers have accurate product and supplier data. This requires retailers to collect data from suppliers to establish a benchmark which accurately conveys a product’s current sustainability – whether that is the recyclability and degradability of its packaging or an analysis of its carbon emissions. The opportunity should not be missed to further engage, collaborate, and innovate with suppliers to make products more sustainable whilst keeping costs down.
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