When I set out to do an Invoke Live! on Conscious Consumption and how it affects consumers shopping at the grocery store, as I did a month or so ago, I had in mind top claims I thought would resonate most with consumers. Namely, I focused on foods and beverages carrying claims such as “local,” “natural,” “organic” and “green.” As someone who enjoys foods and beverages (a lot!), these are the claims I was hearing most so I thought it best to understand how these were factoring into consumers’ decision-making process at the grocery store shelf.
I covered briefly the first three claims (local, natural and organic) in a previous blog post with a strong focus on local as it appears to cause consumers to have the highest opinion of a food/beverage brand, yet does not deliver as high on health benefits as the other two claims. What the “local” claim brings to the table is a three-pronged internal and external benefit promise – health, supporting a local economy, and being better for the environment.
While being better for the environment is a piece of why local resonates so strongly with consumers, consumers aren’t necessarily as positively swayed by foods or beverages that carry this singular claim. Looking at the chart below, consumers are relatively split (based on top 2 and bottom 2 boxes) on how often they buy foods and beverages because of how they impact or affect the environment.
Chart: “Better for the environment” as a purchase driver
What does “green” mean?
So, ok, consumers aren’t overwhelmingly buying these types of foods and beverages but still over 1/3 are so that “green” is still a claim that carries some weight, right?
Interestingly, while “green” often signals a positive impact on the environment, other terms (such as organic, local and natural) remain top-of-mind for many when it comes to communicating this, as does packaging. As I mentioned before, local is often signaling “better for the environment” to consumers but also when I asked those buying foods/beverages that are better for the environment what signals this to them, they are just as often to say other claims (such as local, organic and natural) or other factors such as packaging as they are to say a “green” claim, as these quotes below illustrate:
- “Yes, I would look for ‘organic’ or ‘locally grown.’
- “I just compare the packaging and choose the one that doesn’t have a lot of unneeded bulk or that will biodegrade or can recycled and made into something new”
- “Organic, local, packaged in something that is bio-degradable or that can be recycled.”
Looking Beyond Foods and Beverages
Again, this research was focused squarely on foods and beverages, so the question remains – does the “green” claim carry more clout outside this category?
I asked consumers to name any food or beverage brands they associate with products that are better for the environment. Approximately two-thirds of consumers could not name a food or beverage brand they associate with such a claim. A few did name some brands that are often also associated with being organic such as Kashi, Stonyfield, Amy’s, Whole Foods’ 365 brand and Cascadian Farms. The interesting thing? Even though we were focusing on foods and beverages, consumers often went outside the category, mentioning items such as cleaning supplies or paper products.
So, perhaps “green” resonates stronger in other categories? Invoke is looking to answer this question, and more, when it embarks on its second Live! session in its 3-part Conscious Consumption series – From the Market to the Home. In this session, Invoke will ask delve into consumers’ attitudes about being ‘green’ and how it impacts their everyday lives. In this session we’ll go home with consumers, exploring not only what types of products they use at home, but what they perceive as the key benefits of Conscious Consumption to them and their families. Please register here if you would like to be a part of this event and watch as consumers answer these questions in real-time through Invoke’s Live technology.
And, if you would like to read more about how these types of claims are affecting shopping behaviors at the grocery store, check out the report from the first session – Conscious Consumption Part I: Navigating the Grocery Store.