Price Beats Sustainability
8/21/2023 Retail Brands Industry Look into Europe Article

Price Beats Sustainability

Sustainability is an important field for retailers to refine their profile, and one that they are confidently cultivating, not least through their range of private labels. A recent study by Ipsos and LZ investigates how consumers rate this commitment.

Private labels with husbandry: For a large proportion of consumers, responsible animal husbandry is a relevant issue. Animal welfare and sustainability play a role in purchasing. Private labels with husbandry: For a large proportion of consumers, responsible animal husbandry is a relevant issue. Animal welfare and sustainability play a role in purchasing.

In the joint "Handelsmarkenmonitor 2023," a number of different dimensions of sustainability were examined by the market research institute Ipsos).

The tenor of the study is: sustainability is highly relevant to consumers, but its importance has declined somewhat within a year. The current situation with high price increases, which makes many customers look more closely at their spending when shopping, seems to have put a damper on the topic of sustainability.

"Sustainability is and remains a relevant topic in Germany, of course - but in times of inflation it is also confirmed that sustainability should be an additional benefit, but not the main benefit," is how Inga Havemann, Senior Director of the Hamburg-based market research company Ipsos, classifies the consumer statements.

The conflict between available financial resources and sustainable behavior certainly affects some parts of the population, according to Havemann: "When price is the decisive factor, 

becomes more of an afterthought.

This is particularly noticeable in the willingness to dig deeper into one's pocket for sustainable products. In terms of increased willingness to pay for these items, a reversal of the steady upward trend can be observed for the first time this year. For example, only 45 percent are now prepared to pay more for socially and ecologically responsible private labels (previous year: 50 percent). And fewer consumers also honor regionality.

If a private label is produced in the region, only 42 percent of consumers are prepared to pay more for it. The most significant decline, however, was seen in the willingness to pay for improvements in animal welfare. Only 50 percent are now willing to pay a little more for private labels that address this issue. This is a drop of 8 percentage points compared to 2022. Yet animal welfare is particularly close to consumers' hearts. For 71 percent of participants, responsible animal husbandry is a relevant issue when buying food. And 69 percent see retailers as having a duty to take greater account of animal welfare in their own brands.

Packaging Plays an Important Role

Food packaging is highly relevant in terms of sustainability. The reduction of packaging waste was named as an important sustainability aspect by as much as 73 percent - and thus even more frequently than animal welfare. Almost three quarters of respondents place the same demands on private labels in the area of packaging as they do on branded products. Statements on recyclability and the most economical use of plastics were given a high level of importance. And in general, consumers want to put packaging on a diet and buy products that use as little material as possible. It seems advisable for retailers to position themselves clearly in this area - especially with regard to their own brands. This is because over half (55 percent) of the participants state that they prefer a shopping outlet that carries a wide range of environmentally friendly packaged products in its assortment. Among younger consumers in the 18 to 39 age group, the figure is even significantly higher at 61 percent.

When asked as how sustainable the private labels of individual retailers are seen across all sectors, Edeka and Rewe come off best. At both, supermarket chains 54 percent of customers perceive the private label offering as very or somewhat sustainable.