Brits will stop buying FMCG brands if they’re not eco-friendly

One in five UK consumers (21%) have consciously stopped buying a particular brand or product because of concerns over its impact on the environment, and those concerns peak when it comes to the weekly grocery shop, according to a new study out today (26 July 2021).

More than a third (36%) of shoppers say they’ve stopped buying from a food and drink brand due to its lack of eco-credentials, and 33% have done so for household essentials.

The study also noted that 65% thought a brand’s sustainability creds were important when buying household essentials and 62% said so for food and drink. Overall, a fifth of respondents (22%) said they regularly choose eco-friendly products over less sustainable equivalents and 48% said they do so sometimes.

In addition, around a third of consumers say they plan to spend more on eco-friendly products in FMCG categories this year (32% for food and drink and 31% for household essentials), compared to the previous 12 months.

The findings come from a survey of 2,000 UK adults by media agency Hearts & Science through YouGov, commissioned for the agency’s latest Forces of Change report, a study into the growth of conscious consumerism.

Simon Carr, chief strategy officer at Hearts & Science, said: “UK shoppers are already voting with their wallets when it comes to eco-friendly groceries. It’s not just that they’ll choose products and brands that have the best green credentials, they’ll actively stop buying those that don’t.

“FMCG brands need to be smarter in how they demonstrate their concern for the environment and can no longer get away with paying lip service. Savvy consumers want to see evidence that their shopping habits aren’t hurting the world around them, or they’ll go elsewhere.”

The study also found that people are making an effort to be more eco-friendly in how they shop: more than half (55%) use their local high street to avoid transport emissions, and around one in ten (9%) now shop at zero-waste/refill stores.

Laura Harricks, chief customer officer at Ocado Retail, said: “As the nation’s greenest grocer, sustainability is a key priority for Ocado Retail. We see a clear appetite from our customers for eco-friendly products when deciding what to buy. We have the widest range of any other supermarket, and the recent addition of our B-Corp aisle puts brands that champion sustainability in one place, making it easier for our customers to find them and to make greener choices.”

Garrett O’Reilly, managing director of Hearts & Science, concludes: “There is now a groundswell of support towards sustainability among consumers. If grocery brands fail to address this, they are failing their customers and society more generally, especially as the research shows that products in the FMCG category are at the forefront of the drive towards sustainable shopping. This gives the grocery sector a clear opportunity to capitalise on the green demand and encourage consumers to make smarter choices.

“It’s not idealistic to be green: it makes good business sense. Mark Carney, the former Governor of the Bank of England, has said that firms ignoring the climate crisis will go bust. It’s the progressive companies that will be able to step in to take their place. The question should then be, what more do grocery businesses risk if they don’t embrace sustainability?”

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