In focus: Water Unite, Who Cares, Who Does: Eco-actives and Mosa Meat
The most sticky driver of behavioral change is the resolution to shop more sustainably.
Choice hierarchy is increasingly defined by the reflection of values, with shoppers looking for brands and products that smoothly combine lifestyle demands with business for good, for example by reducing packaging, lowering the carbon footprint, or offering sustainable and fair products.
While this development started well before COVID-19, purpose-led purchasing has since accelerated at the expense of functional purchasing.
Nearly 1 in 3 Europeans has strongly altered his/her purchasing behavior with environmental and social purposes as key drivers – in detail:
When analyzing how this translates into shopping behavior, GfK found that 28% of Europeans are “eco-active“, expressing a deep concern about environmental issues and taking many actions themselves to reduce their footprint.
As a result, sustainable behaviors in FMCG shopping are becoming mainstream across Europe, with Germany leading the way: Nearly 1 in 2 consumers is already greening up his/her buying behavior accordingly, as the multiyear global sustainability study “Who Cares Who Does?” found – more on page 5 of this section.
What will stick in 2022
The same increase in consumers will buy more brands that care about animal welfare and 30% more shoppers will buy more eco-friendly brands.
Purpose has become a sociocultural value and eco-friendly consumption is regarded as an enrichment rather than a restraint. In Europe, the willingness to use buying decisions in an activist way is also very high. The pandemic has stressed “go local”, and it is here to stay. Animal-friendly and eco-friendly will follow.
Germany: Purpose Brands Drive Grown
Source: GfK Consumer Panel Germany | Brand types - hierarchy of needs | YTD November 2020, * excluding shares of fresh goods, generic brands
Interestingly, shoppers of all crisis types – resistant, concerned and affected – are willing to buy more in the future, showing that eco-friendly brands are resistant to economic uncertainty.
As FMCG sales spiked during the pandemic, especially A-brands fared well. Taking evidence from Germany unfolds, that in this vastly green market, purpose-led and sustainable brands outgrew other brands at double rates – and at only a fraction of the average promotional share.
However, a lot of discussion and confusion still exists around the consistency of eco-labels and seals. As eco-social consciousness becomes more mainstream, so is the offer of sustainable brands, which will strengthen the demand for transparency and trusted benchmarking.
Similarly, plastic-reduction and packaging continue to be top concerns of consumers with the need for more focused solutions: easy recognition, information and convenience are key in mainstreaming eco-active behaviors.
In focus: Water Unite
The non-profit organization Water Unite works in partnership with the private sector to raise and invest funds for clean water sanitation and plastics recycling in the developing world. The mission is to pull together the retail and bottling sectors globally around the shared idea of a 1 cent per liter micro-levy on bottled water sales, and to attract high value socially conscious consumers.
By buying products from a Water Unite partner, consumers invest in safe, sustainable and social schemes globally.
Started in 2018, Water Unite is already supported by Co-op (UK), Elior UK, The Rockefeller Foundation, Stone, Vitol and One Foundations.
When it comes to social responsibility, Duncan Goose, Founder of Water Unite & Director of Partnerships, still observes a difference between what consumers say and what they do.
However, the shift is happening, with shoppers spending more on eco-active or eco-considerate products, and with retailers and brands translating this shift into action at the point of sale.
Goose predicts, that the FCMG industry will experience “shocks” over the next three to five years with a need for massive adjustments due to consumer behavior changing, which has been accelerated by the pandemic.
The earlier retailers and brands adopt those consumer concerns in eco-behavior, the more they will benefit from more customers interaction.
In cooperating with brands and retailers, Water Unite helps them to adjust to these changes in eco-behavior and to the topics consumers expect to be addressed, such as sourcing, recycling, sustainable production and carbon footprint.
The micro-levy scheme plays into the hands of a wide array of consumers, looking for affordable and convenient solutions that offset their footprint.
Water Unite is already working with a number of retailers, governments, the United Nations (UN) and other stakeholders to apply the micro-levy concept internationally.
It’s this perfect hybrid of political and private sector, financial institutions and development coming together.”
Duncan Goose sees that consumers have already started the journey to more purpose-driven behavior.
As the demand is there, retailers and brands now need to help consumers to find what they are looking for. However, to really activate this purpose-driven change will require a joint effort by all stakeholders – politics, businesses, financial institutions and consumers – to support social development.
Goose is convinced: investing in development in one country will have an impact across the world.
Watch the full interview
In focus: Who Cares, Who Does?
Shopping sustainably has been an aspiration of many consumers even before the pandemic. Hence, it is not the most abrupt, but certainly one of the most sticky drivers of behavioral change: amongst all the turbulences caused by the pandemic, sustainable behaviors in FMCG are becoming mainstream across Europe.
The GfK multiyear global sustainability study “Who Cares Who Does?” across 26 countries in partnership with Europanel and Kantar, takes a closer look at the two perennial levers of true behavior change: caring and doing.
Across the globe, over half of the population feels sustainability matters more to them due to the pandemic.
The number of eco-active shoppers, who have a fundamental concern about environmental problems and take actions accordingly, has risen from 15% in 2019 to 22% in 2021 and is worth €393 billion in FMCG.
Sustainability is not “just” a societal obligation, but a business imperative: At this rate, eco-actives will account for half the global population by 2029, even faster in high GDP countries
More than two thirds of shoppers have stopped buying certain products because of their negative impact, and an equal number switched to comparable products that have a positive impact. Categories and brands currently undertrading with eco-actives face major losses.
However, there is still a huge gap between those that value sustainability and would like to take action, and those that actually do: Across Europe, 68% try, but only 33% succeed.
So there is this green waiting room with shoppers, who are not acting, primarily because they feel they either cannot find or cannot afford sustainable products, or they find it hard to prioritize or succumb to in-store distractions.
1. Make it understood. Projects to raise awareness are a vital first step. Showing how each individual can contribute personally is key to increase the sense of ownership.
2. Make it Easy. Eco-actives are taking time, for instance, to check labels. Other shoppers will not. Initiatives like digital watermarks for efficient sorting can be great contributions to "econvenience".
3. Make it desirabale. Green is increasingly used as a badge of honor. Tapping into this sentiment will achieve greater involvement.
4. Make it rewarding. A positive emotional pay-off, such a multiplying the impact of a single transaction, can be a great incentive. The greater the transparency and traceability, the greater the engagement.
5. Make it a habit. Conscious shopping should be an always-on option. Front of pack information, clear shelf lay-out, targeted discounts and refill stations help make green a routine.
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In focus: Mosa Meat
Mosa Meat is a food technology company based in The Netherlands. The company’s mission is to completely reshape the future of food by making it easy to replace beef with beef, thus making the world better for the population, the planet, and for animal welfare. Founded by scientist Mark Post and food technician Peter Verstrate, Mosa Meat created the world’s first ever cultured beef burger with the public proof of concept in 2013.
By taking some cells from a cow – with no need to take its life – Mosa Meat uses natural processes to nurture and grow them into real beef.
The company has been working on developing the process into commercial products and estimates, that it will take another two years before cultured meat is commercially available, starting in high-end restaurants.
Bosch states that by using biotechnology to grow burgers from cell samples, Mosa Meat will help to prevent 97% of greenhouse gas emissions from cattle while improving animal welfare.
We want people to change their way of eating meet: replace meat with meat – convenience/habits of people
But in a better way: Change from conventional meat to cultured meat
However, not everybody wants to become a vegetarian and Mosa Meat is paving the way for a change from conventional meat to cultured meat. Replacing meat with meat plays to the habits of people, offering a convenient way to help reduce the environmental damage caused by livestock farming.
The production of animal-based proteins has a huge impact on the environment with up to 20% of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from animal agriculture. During the pandemic, meat consumption even saw an increase in many countries. At the same time, the number of meat replacers is rising and in countries like The Netherlands penetration has reached 55%.
By using biotechnology to grow burgers from cell samples, Mosa Meat will help to prevent 97% of greenhouse gas emissions from cattle while improving animal welfare.
In its effort to replace conventional by cultivated beef, Mosa Meat is currently up against two big hurdles: Price and legislation.
The price for conventional meat, being subsidized, is still too low: However, Maarten Bosch counts that as conventional meat will be priced fairly overtime, and the production of cultivated beef will achieve economies of scale, the price discussion will narrow.
While Bosch sees huge market opportunities for cultivated meat around the world, he also recognizes barriers and lengthy legal procedures, especially in Europe. “Market introduction of a novel food is a lengthy process, but the outlook is positive” – for a kinder, better and healthier way to produce meat.