Shoppers demand sustainability. But can brands deliver it?


December 9, 2021| by AmyDunning

If sustainability wasn’t a key focus for brands and retailers before, it most definitely is now. As part of the COP26 in November, we learnt that the food industry is responsible for more than a quarter of total greenhouse gas emissions and 60% of the global damage to biodiversity, so for brands and retailers to minimise their impact could make a significant contribution to reducing climate change. In fact, Tesco, Sainsbury’s Waitrose, Co-op and M&S – five of the UK’s biggest supermarkets have promised to halve the environmental impact of a weekly food shop by the end of the decade, by reducing carbon emissions, deforestation and the food waste and packaging they produce.  

Now, whilst this is a significant step forward in saving the planet, what about those shoppers who want to react now?  

Can shoppers clearly identify if a product is sustainable? How easy is it to understand if the product packaging is recyclable? How can shoppers distinguish if a product meets their lifestyle needs? 

The back of pack information provided on products is limited. There is not enough space to call out all the nutritional information required including ingredients and storage instructions as well as the additional product information required by brands to make an informed purchasing decision.  

But that is where online comes in.  

The ROPO (research online purchase offline) shopper is becoming more prominent than ever before, with at least 52% of shoppers researching product information pre-purchase. If brands do not provide shoppers with the desired product information they will go elsewhere. Unfortunately, brand loyalty is being diminished. Whilst the brand and price of the product were once the main contributing factors in the decision-making process, this has shifted to also include that the product meets the shopper’s lifestyle and diet needs, causing brand loyalty to be at risk for many brands and retailers.  

So what do brands need to do? 

Put simply, brands need to go beyond the pack. Brands need to tell their brand story and market their products highlighting their sustainability initiatives and more directly with their retailers and shoppers. By going beyond the pack, brands will have the opportunity to communicate their sustainability strategy, focusing on their packaging information and manufacturing methods to relay important information to shoppers on the provenance of their product.  

Brands need to understand their content health score to acknowledge how complete and accurate their product content is, and use this score to understand what key attributes such as sustainability are missing to improve their content for shoppers. With an actionable metric brands can easily understand their product content quality and completeness and leverage this score to differentiate and stand out on the digital shelf by delivering a best in class shopping experience. 

In fact, brands now have the opportunity to utilise an array of attributes to enrich and improve the shopper experience and deliver new key information to retailers and shoppers. The optimisation of attributes is critical for shoppers. This is the only way, shoppers will be able to make informed purchasing decisions based on the heightened product information provided focusing on information that is not and cannot be provided on pack. It is an opportunity for brands to promote their sustainable manufacturing practices, or social/environmental activities and differentiate their product content to meet the needs of the shopper.  

With product content being without a doubt one of the biggest drivers behind ecommerce sales, brands need to take control of their product pages and differentiate their product content to drive discoverability and call out the information that shoppers want to see, such as sustainability. Without this product information, it will be impossible for brands to maintain shopper loyalty and win on the digital shelf.  

To learn more on how you can optimise your attributes to win the shopper, request a consultation here.  

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