IRI: two-thirds of British shoppers prefer to buy products from companies that use less plastic packaging

According to IRI’s European Shopper Insights Survey, two-thirds of British shoppers identify with retail companies that clearly demonstrate their commitment towards using less packaging, respect the environment and demonstrate fairness, transparency and integrity.

British shoppers, particularly younger millennials (18-24-year-olds) are worried about the growing concern around the use of non-recyclable packaging within the FMCG retail industry. Responses from British shoppers scored higher than their European counterparts, with 73% stating that they would prefer to buy products with packaging that could be recycled and 67% prefer to buy products that respect the environment.

However, with the exception of packaging and product innovation, the UK’s consumer benchmarks relating to other environmental considerations were lower than the rest of Europe. Only 39% said they would be willing to pay more for organic produce (Europe 52%) while less than half (42%) said they would accept higher prices for “Km 0” food (Europe 67%).

The survey of more than 3,300 consumers from seven European countries asked shoppers a range of questions regarding their shopping habits and expectations for the future of grocery retail. It also examined the shopping behaviour of younger generations of millennial consumers.

Comparing the UK’s responses to other European countries, the report reveals that Italian shoppers are the most likely to want to buy products with environmentally-friendly packaging (81%) followed by Spain (75%) then Greece and France (74%). German consumers are least likely to buy products with recyclable packaging (62%).

Olly Abotorabi, senior regional insights manager at IRI, comments: “There is increasing awareness of the impact that the use of plastic in grocery retail is having on the planet, with heart-rending images of floating plastic islands in the ocean and animals caught up in food and drink packaging circulating regularly in the media. As a result shoppers are more aware than ever of the impact their purchases can have and are making the connection every time they pick up brands in store.”

Abotorabi continues: “Plastic pledges are fast being woven into FMCG companies’ strategic plans. Manufacturers must continue to be seen taking action if they want their brands to remain top of mind with consumers and retailers. Packaging has become a key product attribute that marketers need to feed into predictive purchasing models for their brands, alongside other factors that can influence shopper behaviour, such as size, flavour, colour and price.

“Demonstrating the value their brand generates for the category alongside commitment to a so-called ‘circular economy’ for packaging – evolving to a re-usable rather than single use packaging – will be key going forward. In future this could be key to keeping products on retailers’ shelves.”

IRI believes that consumer preferences for environmentally-friendly products will require brand managers to seriously rethink their packaging, in addition to other components, such as use of carbon or pesticides as part of the brand architecture. Brands should share their knowledge and insights with retailers who need these star brands to generate traffic.