WindowOn... Shoppers & Sustainability 2019 (WO33)

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Shoppers & Sustainability

This report is based on: 1018 online interviews amongst a nationally representative sample of UK shoppers aged 18+. Fieldwork was conducted in June 2019 by Populus Data Solutions Ltd.


33 33 PUBLISHED BY: Shoppercentric

EDITOR: Danielle Pinnington DESIGN: Mike Higgs

e: We welcome ideas for future articles and reports. Guidelines on our preferred format and style are available from

Š Shoppercentric 2019 All copyright is vested in Shoppercentric unless expressly stated otherwise. No permission is granted for reproduction, use or adaptation of the material, save as to provide for under Statute, and any such use must be accompanied by the appropriate accreditation.

Because turning shoppers into buyers matters


Trends Research... We’re all at it

Jamie Rayner,

Managing Director, Shoppercentric

What’s the real cost of reduced cost? A little over 60 years ago, food and non-alcoholic drink accounted for 33% of household expenditure. Today it is marginally higher than 10% (source: ONS). In many ways this is a good thing, but we should also pause to consider the declining consideration now given to necessity products in our daily lives. AND THEN consider the actions required to change generational learnt behaviour to buy necessity goods in ‘sustainable’ ways. We believe that this requires an unprecedented collaboration between governments, manufacturers and retailers, like we have never seen before, to come anywhere near to achieving what seems to be a nocompromise-end-goal to be able to co-exist with our environment and our consumption habits. Competition will somehow need to park itself or find a way of coexisting to allow for some re-calibration to address the balances that need to be made. Cost reductions are used to seek that competitive edge and as a result price has become an overriding factor in product choice. But this doesn’t have to be the case. In times of continued pricing pressure, we believe that this is an opportunity for brands to go beyond price, and reintroduce other equally important values. In fact, going back to the reason brands were created in the first place: to offer reassurance of quality and consistency in a world where food adulteration and quality reduction was common practise (sound familiar?).

33 From our perspective, shoppers have changed since we last looked at this 9 years ago. Has your business changed (outside of manufacturing necessity) to meet these evolving needs?


Being green is the new black. But if we think we are all at it, why aren’t habits changing as dramatically as our environment needs?

Sustainability takes effort


The confusion stakes are high; shoppers need help finding their way through the Sustainability maze.

Grandmother knows how to suck eggs


It seems the silver generation could teach our younger shoppers a thing or two when it comes to sustainable consumerism.

Is anyone on the right track?


To what extent are sustainable initiatives by businesses cutting through among shoppers/consumers?

What next?


We share our thoughts on how businesses can make sustainable behaviours easier for shoppers/ consumers to adopt.

THOUGHT PIECE Connecting Emotionally with 14 Shoppers through Packaging Good pack design is vital to generating the right emotional response and shoppers’ likelihood to purchase sustainable products. What methods are best suited for researching this emotional connection?

18 One Shopper Against Plastic One shopper’s intrepid journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle

Regular Features... The BIG Picture... An Experts View Shopper Talk... Out & About...

10 16 20 20

Written by

Danielle Pinnington

We’re all at it It seems that being ‘green’ has become the norm, with 80% of UK shoppers describing themselves as being ‘environmentally friendly’. This is no longer the preserve of Greta (Thunberg) and friends. In fact, the average ‘environmentally friendly’ UK shopper looks remarkably like any other UK shopper, and shops in the usual places. So, are we really all as worthy as this statistic would suggest, or are we prematurely congratulating ourselves because any effort is in marked contrast to the ‘have it all’ ways of the recent past? That fact is that being ‘environmentally friendly’ can mean all manner of behaviours, and our traditional view of the earthy, vaguely hippy types personified by Swampy (if you can remember him aka Daniel Hooper, 1996!?) has been diluted by changes in our own habits, perceptions and expectations: l Almost everyone actively recycles their waste nowadays l 82% of UK shoppers claim to consider ‘environmentally friendly’ labelling within their purchase decisions l 59% of UK shoppers claim to actively avoid particular types of packaging


Those who describe themselves as ‘environmentally friendly’ aren’t just getting involved because of a sense of duty or guilt, there are some clear and practical reasons motivating them. For example, reducing waste chimes with the learnt behaviours of the credit crunch, as well as wanting to protect the environment and species. And the increasing rejection of particular types of packaging is bound to be linked to legislation on plastic bags, and recent media focus on plastic waste. Many of us also seem to be buying into the concerns about global warming, which is listed as the number 4 reason for buying environmentally friendly products.

WO Issue 33 | Shoppers & Sustainability

Figure 1 Factors that would encourage more purchasing of sustainable products





77% 64% 45% 47%


2010 2019 2010 2019 Prices matching standard products

Easier to find in store

No data available

36% 34% 24%


25% 24%

2019 2010 2019 2010 2019 2010 2019

Local council recycling / More choice in store

There are still barriers which are holding shoppers back, but interestingly these barriers have lessened over time (Fig 1). For example, 64% of UK shoppers would buy more if there was price parity between environmentally friendly products and standard products compared to 77% in 2010. This most likely reflects the broader choice of products available nowadays rather than just a shift in consumer perceptions, but that in itself shows how the combination of efforts on the part of manufacturers and retailers can combine with shifts in consumer sentiments to drive real change.

Reassurance products are as good as standard


More awareness of impact / Knowing which stores sell them

It all sounds good, doesn’t it? And yet the urgent updates from scientists about the state of our planet continue to describe an environment under huge pressure from our materialistic habits. This is the fundamental disconnect between our perceived efforts to be environmentally friendly, and our ingrained consumerism. As commentators are starting to point out, sustainability isn’t just about buying the right things, it’s also about buying less.

We shoppers/consumers still have a long way to go. And for businesses that means there are fundamental challenges looming.

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Written by

Sarah Banks

Sustainability takes effort We may well feel that sorting our waste into the separate recycling bins or perusing the wonky veg is a job well done. But in reality we are only touching the tip of the iceberg in terms of embracing sustainability. In fact, for many of us, that very word gives us a headache, because what does it actually mean? And how can we adapt our shopping and consuming behaviours if we don’t know what it is? For UK shoppers, sustainability is a word that has multiple meanings (Fig 1) and it can describe multiple different shopping behaviours (Fig 2). Sustainability as a concept encompasses recycling, renewables, being environmentally friendly, protecting the planet and species, ethical production and balancing diverse needs. From the consumer perspective the phrase “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations” seems to be the best summary, but without the detail of the individual elements it lacks tangibility. As a result it is difficult to understand what actions are required of us as individuals within our communities. There is no single behaviour that we can adopt in order to shop in a sustainable way. Instead there are all manner of actions: from buying sustainably


sourced products; to choosing recycled packaging; and avoiding single use plastic – to mention just the top 3 in shoppers minds. Even if we just focus on these three factors, what happens if the product we are looking to buy is indeed a sustainably sourced product, but it is unclear if the packaging itself is recyclable? Which factor is more aligned with sustainability, and therefore more important to consider? It’s a very complex set of criteria on which we are trying to make quick judgments within our purchase decisions – almost like a game of top trumps! And let’s not forget that the average household, most of whom are trying to do the right thing because they describe themselves as ‘environmentally friendly’, are juggling these complexities with the demands of increasingly busy lives. For all the will in the world, can we reasonably expect a harassed parent to make a rational decision about the sustainability of a product when they are rushing to buy dinner for tonight before getting the kids from school?

WO Issue 33 | Shoppers & Sustainability

Figure 1 What Sustainability means Total (1018) 64%

Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations


Renewable / recyclable resources


Balancing human, social, enviro and economic needs


Environmentally friendly


Protecting people, plans and planet equally


Protecting the oceans


Preventing climate change


Ethical production


Protecting species diversity


I'm not sure

Figure 2 ‘Sustainable’ shopping behaviours Total (1018) 72%

Buying product that is sustainably sourced


Buying packaging that is recyclable


Avoiding buying single use plastic


Buying products made in an enviro friendly way


Buying wonky fruit & veg


Buying seasonal produce


Buying local


Buying less meat


Buying organic




Not sure

The desire to do the right thing is clearly there, but as defining the ‘right thing’ becomes more difficult, consumers/shoppers need more help from manufacturers, retailers and government. Help to see the ‘right’ products in-store, help to differentiate between the options, and a lot more guidance on what will make a difference. Of course, as this becomes a topic that is increasingly written (and read!) about, inconsistent stories sow the seeds of doubt about the efficacy of so-said-solutions. It isn’t easy. It’s hard to make genuinely informed decisions. For example, according to the Sustainable Restaurant Association as reported in the Guardian*: pre-shipping, the carbon created by a litre of

semi-skimmed milk (1.67kg) is far higher than that of almond milk (360g). But this singular measure ignores the environmental damage almond plantations are doing in California, and the water cost. It takes 6,098 litres to produce 1 litre of almond milk.

Making this hugely complex subject more straightforward, and more intuitive is going to be key to the success of ‘sustainable living’. And that’s not a job that politicians or businesses can palm off on shoppers/consumers.


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Written by

Kristen Campbell Davis

Grandmother knows how to suck eggs Earlier this year, those of you with school aged children may well have received a letter or email from your children’s school referencing the School Strike for Climate. Perhaps the school decided to support this movement, or perhaps they recognised the sentiment but wanted to put in place a supportive initiative of their own that didn’t give kids ‘an excuse to bunk off school’. Regardless of how you personally felt about School Strike for Climate, it was clear that school aged children had seized the media agenda, and we all sat up and took notice. Or did we?! It is entirely possible that grandparents and their peers around the UK were wondering what all the fuss was about. Actually, it would seem that this age group, at the opposite end of the spectrum to the school strikers, are possibly more in-tune with sustainability than those of us in the middle.


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Take a look at these facts:

75+ 86% 58+% 92+% 75+ of


twice 65-74 75 year olds are

as likely to see buying seasonal produce as environmentally friendly behaviour vs

year olds describe themselves as environmentally friendly vs

year olds will try to choose products packaged in an environmentally friendly way vs



year olds would like to see paper bags replace plastic for fresh produce vs

year olds recycle


product types on average, vs only

80% 40% 71% 5.9 18-24 18-24 18-24 18-24 18-24 year olds


year olds


year olds

All these points of difference demonstrate that older shoppers are quietly drawing from their experiences in the past, in contrast to the more vocal call for change among the younger generation. Whilst the media regularly talk up the more thoughtful GenZ/ Millenials, perhaps it’s time to also consider the thoughts of those in the UK who grew up in the post war era of real austerity, when there literally were no options but to buy seasonal, wonky produce; before plastic became mainstream; and before it was cheaper to throw away fashion than mend it.


year olds

types among vs year olds

We’re not talking about the backward-looking nostalgia that seemingly influenced a proportion of voting decisions on Brexit. Instead we are talking about real experience of the shopping and consumption habits that better reflect the natural cycles of our environment. Applying some of the simplicity and common sense of those days to the frenetic world that is 2019 would be of real value. There’s nothing better than mixing up a bit of real-life experience with youthful aspirations to find a solution – now there’s a challenge!

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Written by

Jamie Rayner

Is anyone on the right track? Understandably there is a lot of pressure on food producers, brand manufacturers and retailers to ‘up’ their sustainability credentials. Whether that means changes to the pack, product, range or in-store equipment clearly depends on the category, brand, retailer, or even the latest global warming headline. It’s arguable that the food and drink categories have been dealing with this pressure for some time, which goes a good way to explain why they appear the most reactive of the categories we talked to shoppers about. Indeed, UK shoppers

are significantly more likely to have seen labels relating to sustainability on food and drink products, compared to household or fashion products. And that was both in terms of the products, but also in terms of the actual packaging itself (fig 1).

Figure 1 seen sustainable labels on products in this category % Have


Food & Drink





38 Clothing

100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0

seen sustainable packaging descriptors in this category % Have


Food & Drink



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N/A Clothing

Whilst the fashion industry has had its share of pressure to address negative production practices it is only now that shoppers are starting to weigh up the real cost of fast and disposable fashion, and there is clearly plenty of room for clothing to improve. Recent news from Zara and H&M suggests the fashion sector is now starting to take action but taking a leaf out of the food & drink category pages could speed up the response by the fashion industry. The challenge for industry, however, is not just to make changes whilst still making profits, but also to identify the changes which will be most beneficial in sustainability terms. There are all manner of options to consider, with sustainability protagonists vying to have their cause taken up by as many companies as possible. And for those protagonists, being seen or heard in a meaningful manner is also a challenge. If shoppers/consumers are struggling with the complexity of behaving sustainably, it is just as difficult for manufacturers, retailers and protagonists alike. As fig 2 demonstrates, there are a wide range of potential labels a company can look to align with in order to demonstrate their sustainability or environmentally friendly features. Some of these

you’ll be well aware of, as the likes of FairTrade and Organic have been around for years. And some, such as FarmAssured (the red tractor logo!) have been very successful in raising their awareness over the last decade – visibility up from 32% to 52%. But awareness does not automatically lead to action, as only 22% of shoppers actively look for the red tractor when shopping. Sustainability is such a huge issue. As shoppers and consumers, we have to take on board the impact that our habits are having on our planet, and as we saw in our first article, UK shoppers / consumers are recognizing that. The difficulty is how we match our desire for change, with actual changes in our behaviour.

We are fortunate to live in a world of almost unlimited choice, so the ‘right’ products are out there... somewhere. Unfortunately, unlimited choice is a double-edged sword. Being able to work out the right options, even being able to see those options in the first place is a huge ask, and businesses need to do more to help shoppers out.

Figure 2. Labels shoppers/consumers have seen on food & drink products 68





Locally sourced

32 33 37 30 36 29 35 31 40

Farm Assured Dophin friendly/MSC Rainforest Alliance Sustainably sourced Environmentally friendly


57 52

22 25 24 26

Soil Association Non GM Foods


Renewable energy source


Carbon/food miles Carbon Trust Standard

81 79


Free range


18 12


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% 2010 % 2019

(1000) (1018)


thebigpicture Betterfood Company

By Sarah Banks

Retail Spotlight:


“ So why did you move to Bristol”? is a question I’m being asked less frequently these days. It seems the secret is well and truly out. Bristol regularly tops the polls: “Best Place to Live”, “4th Most Inspiring City globally”, “Vegan Capital of the World” and in 2015 Bristol became European Green Capital in recognition of a multitude of initiatives aimed at making the city a green and sustainable place to live.

From humble beginnings packing organic veg boxes in a back street kitchen, independent healthfood retailer and café Betterfood has gone from a wobbly start to three successful stores across the city and employs over 100 people. The company specialises in organic, local and ethical products and their homely St. Werburghs Café is a regular hang out for fans of nutritious food and coffee alike. Earlier this year they won a coveted Natural and Organic Products European award for the Best Independent retailer.

Boston Tea Party Now a chain of 22 stores originating in Bristol, Boston Tea Party made national news when it eschewed £250,000 of profit in favour of ditching single use paper cups. Ethics over profits; Sam Roberts, the owner, had anticipated the loss, “We felt this was a financial loss we had to take and we want this to be a call to action to other companies” 1 . Consumers are asked to either bring their own reusable cup or pay a deposit on a loan-cup. The chain makes their coffee with Yeo Valley organic milk and Extract Coffee beans (using a directsource model) and use only free-range meat and eggs. They’ve just been named Most Ethical Café by Ethical Consumer Magazine.


HOT OFF THE PRESS! Scoop Wholefoods: Scoop Wholefoods from Australia has just opened their first UK store on Whiteladies Road, becoming Bristol’s largest zero-waste shop. The store lists over 1000 products and is split into three sections; household items, dry foods and a separate room for toiletries. The owners Rich Green and Stephie Mizzi previously ran health and fitness retreats, where they became conscious of the amounts of waste being produced. 4

WO Issue 33 | Shoppers & Sustainability


Long Ashton Post Office

Preserve is North Bristol’s first dedicated Plastic Free store; one of a couple of 2018 openings (alongside ZeroGreen in South Bristol). Owner, Tiriel Lovejoy, had a long career in regional store management for the likes of Lidl and Iceland before spotting the timely opportunity to open a zero waste store in his home town.

Truly an interesting case study for where the most traditional of all British shops has benefited from listening to its shoppers and adding environmentally friendly products and packaging options to their offering.

Preserve stocks a range of loose, mainly organic and vegan wholefoods as well as providing refill stations for eco-friendly toiletries and household cleaners. As an added draw for shoppers, they’ve even installed a nut-butter-maker, where you can pulverise your own just-purchased nuts into a creamy spread or blend into nut milk. 2

This small P.O. and C-Store in a local Bristol village, like many, was struggling. After a Facebook survey of it’s customers suggested they wanted to see more sustainable products, owner David Andrews installed Ecover and Faith in Nature refill stations. Across the two brands he’s selling £800 a week with 30-40% margins. Soon after followed greetings cards without wrapping and then a refillable milk station with glass bottles that can be purchased for £1. Initial hopes were for 50-60 litres a week, but sales have topped 500 litres 3. A great example of where speaking to and acting on Shopper demand has resulting in increased margins for a retailer. This story also illustrates where C-Stores, who often struggle to compete with the big grocery chains, can be more agile and responsive to consumer sustainability needs and benefit accordingly. References 1 Ellson, Andrew. The Times. [Online] 3rd April 2019. [Cited: 15th August 2019.] 2 Bristol Post. Bristol Post. [Online] 25th June 2019. [Cited: 22nd August 2019.] old-estate-agents-bristol-being-3013969. 3 Mannering, Robin. Convenience Store. Convenience Store. [Online] 11th June 2019. [Cited: 22nd August 2019.] https:// 4 Bristol Post. Bristol Post. [Online] 24th July 2019. [Cited: 23rd August 2019.] scoop-wholefoods-whiteladies-road-opening-3129188.

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Written by

Danielle Pinnington

What next? As we’ve said at various points in the previous pages, shoppers/consumers need help to turn their desire to be environmentally friendly into action. The companies that make sustainable behaviours easier for shoppers/ consumers to adopt are more likely to be amongst tomorrow’s winners. Sustainability, in all its forms, will increasingly be part of the conversation you need to have with your target market. So it is important to start adding the shopper/consumer perspective to your sustainability plans for the future. Regardless of which sustainable features you can, or plan to, apply to your products, packaging or retail environments, there are key points in any purchase journey (see Fig 1) when you can flex those features to appeal to today’s shoppers/consumers. Taking this structured approach allows you to identify where you can nudge shoppers/consumers closer to your brand or category, in order to make the most of the opportunity. It might even be the case that this perspective helps remove fundamental barriers currently in place that are inhibiting your brand or category’s potential.

One thing is for sure, this is a game of patience. Consumer education and shopper action will take time [think of the introduction of plastic bag legislation and how many of us still buy plastic bags when out top-up shopping]. As previously highlighted, those who collaborate will benefit the most, this is not an easy fix. Engrained habits and perspectives do not change overnight. As momentum grows behind the topic of sustainability, it is vital that for there to be real validity behind any claims made. Claims must have longevity and be able to stand up to public scrutiny. If sustainability is chosen to either become a hygiene factor for a brand or part of the fundamental positioning then building trust is a vital foundation. Jumping on the bandwagon simply to elicit a purchase trigger could be a risky business, and is likely to be unravelled by today’s cynical shoppers later on in the consumer cycle.

Now that Green is the new normal, the more you can show shoppers/ consumers that you can help them make more sustainable choices, the better for your bottom line.


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Figure 1

01 Trigger Using sustainability as a product benefit/point of differentiation The benefits of buying sustainably

02 Explore Identifying the products that adhere to chosen standards and principles Making access and consideration easier

03 Find Prominence in-store with impactful signage/merchandising/POS Making choices visible in-store

04 Consider Value for money, quality reassurance, clear labelling/information on pack Removing barriers to consideration, making choices easier and more informed

05 Buy Demonstrating the benefits – celebrating a great choice Making shoppers/consumers feel good about their choice

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THOUGHT PIECE Written by Sarah Banks

Connecting Emotionally with Shoppers through Packaging Packaging is in the spotlight like never before – mostly for the wrong reasons. Since Blue Planet II the UK population has seemingly woken up en masse to the possibility that plastic = bad. For some shoppers it’s that simple (see our feature on a particularly motivated shopper on page 18), for others it’s a gateway to a new kind of shopping hell: guilt and confusion over what really are the best alternatives and a struggle to escape the dependency on convenience. Emotions motivate decision making

What is clear is that shoppers care (fig 1). They want to take action and need help doing so. They are willing to take a share of the responsibility but also believe that government, retailers and manufacturers have a larger duty in tackling sustainability issues.

Either way, saving the planet through a more conscious consumerism has become a highly emotive and motivating topic. And that’s the point; emotions motivate. Ultimately they drive behaviour. It’s why ethical product and packaging choices are now finding their way into more Purchase Decision Hierarchies - particularly fresh food, household cleaning and toiletries.














Shoppers are taking responsibility


Fig 1 Share of responsibility for environmental protection/ sustainability – Total (1018)


Winning Shoppers’ hearts ethically Packaging used to ‘just’ be about functionality, desirability, stand-out and communication. Now ‘doing the right thing’ - has become a priority for many shoppers weighing up which product to purchase: l 29% of shoppers say they always buy loose fruit and veg in order to reduce plastic waste l 42% try to avoid single use plastic in general l Easy-to-recycle packaging options are chosen frequently by 43% l And two thirds of shoppers wanting the choice taken out of their hands completely and nonrecyclable packaging to be banned.

WO Issue 33 | Shoppers & Sustainability

Sustainable Profit Ultimately this offers both a challenge and a real opportunity for retailers and manufacturers. Whether more ethically minded or margin motivated Pukka tea packs are not only beautiful, but also printed with (perhaps no longer vegetable dyes and made from FSC certified card. incompatible Image source: aims), leading the sustainability agenda is a means to adding value and winning consumer hearts. The Pukka teas brand is an excellent example of this.

As consumer behavioural researchers Alan Zorfas and Daniel Leemon point out in their article for the Harvard Business Review: “The most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level - tapping into their fundamental motivations and fulfilling their deep, often unspoken emotional needs.” 1

Connecting emotionally with shoppers by communicating ethical, eco-friendly credentials on pack will likely become an essential element of successful pack design.

New approaches to pack testing It follows, then, that the ways in which products and packaging are tested also need an upgrade. We need to measure how good shoppers feel about the choice they’re making when seeing the pack, not just how they rationally make the choice, or what they claim their choice will be. How do we best capture the emotional response (which has a higher correlation to sales potential) of a product?

testing with the eye-tracking, emotion-decoding and engagement monitoring power of MindTrace. It’s all done from the comfort of a respondent’s laptop or PC – making it surprisingly accessible. Driving this development are two key philosophies we strongly believe in; evaluating packaging within a competitive context and gaining insight from system 1 implicit testing approaches.

We’ve thought about it a lot at Shoppercentric and consequently are developing a fit-for-purpose testing approach. The result will be a new suite of pack-testing tools that integrate virtual shelf

Please get in touch if you’d like to find out more or get involved with this new, powerful approach by emailing:

Reference: 1 Zorfas, A. & Leemon, D., 2016. Harvard Business Review. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 14th August 2019]

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Experts view on

Sustainability Sophie Mather

Founder and Material Futurist at biov8tion

We asked sustainability consultant Sophie Mather to give us an industry perspective, based on her experience helping textile manufacturers, retailers and brands focus on pressing sustainable challenges. What are the key pressures for your industry/ your clients in terms of sustainability? The clothing industry has been under increasing pressure for the last 15+ years both in regard to social and environmental challenges. My focus has been in addressing more environmental issues associated with the production of fabrics for clothing manufacturing. The sustainability agenda has changed considerably over that time, and although it started out very much around providing organic and fair trade cotton, today the agenda is based around: l Waste - circular approaches to minimise waste and maximising raw material resources l Water - water use, and water effluent to ensure clean water is prioritised in the communities where materials are manufactured l Climate change – minimising the impact of the ways that we use our raw materials and production methods


Where do those pressures come from: consumers, competitors, retailers, shareholders or politicians? Ultimately the pressure to make change comes from policy and legislation at country, regional and globally level. In addition to this the industry receives a huge amount of pressure from environmental activists who want industry to clean up its manufacturing processes. There are niche pockets where pressure comes from the consumer, but this tends to be more within the outdoor sector where consumers witness firsthand the effects of production on the environment. What challenges does your industry face specifically in terms of meeting the growing sustainability agenda? The biggest challenge and white elephant in the room is the increasing consumption by consumers. The clothing industry has become another throw away industry and while that trend continues the industry is under increased pressure that no amount of innovation can solve. Over the years we have seen how the consumer can become responsible in regard to plastic bag usage, and more recently single use plastics in general, but there is no option other than providing the consumer with the information they need to support responsible consumption of clothing.

WO Issue 33 | Shoppers & Sustainability

Microfibre release from garments, is a cross industry challenge affecting all fabric types, through in-process manufacturing and consumer use (through fibre pull out and fragmentation). Solutions to this challenge will be found in cross-industry process modifications and fabric re-engineering.

We can and are doing our part in cleaning up the industry, but the consumer needs to pay a fair price for clothing to support more sustainable manufacturing methods, and consume consciously to ultimately enable the clothing industry to be more sustainable. Which kinds of areas are your clients focussing on in terms of sustainability programmes? The brands and retailers I work with have teams and resources focusing on sustainability at all levels. From working with the suppliers and developing product, to distribution and consumer-facing communication. This is no longer a niche area on selected company agenda’s but a main way of conducting business within our industry. Do manufacturers in your industry have any formal/ informal means of working together to agree standards/ find solutions? Since I have been working in this area, I have seen brands work to ‘solve’ issues alone, but due to the complexities of what needs to be done, we are now working with a truly collaborative industry.

The industry is very different today and I am increasingly amazed about how collaborative it is. We have come a very long way as an industry as far as how we work, with a portfolio of tools to support decision making. Today most of these tools are industry facing, but I see a future where we engage the consumer more with these so they can make conscious buying decisions. In an ideal world, what you would you like to see happening in your industry to solve current climate and sustainability issues? With the consumer interest in this area, I believe now is the time to empower the consumer to think and behave differently. This will need to be a joint commitment by consumer and brand, but what excites me is the array of new business models that are starting to come through that will enable consumers to update their wardrobes in new ways such as leasing, sharing and moving away from ownership models - such as we have seen with platforms like Spotify to stream music and Airbnb to share properties. The near-term future is exciting and fresh, and I am looking forward to seeing how it can shape a more sustainable future for fashion.

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One Shopper Against Plastic Julie Shaw

We spoke to one passionate shopper about her intrepid journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Julie - single mum of two hungry teenage boys and very busy full-time teacher - decided plastic food waste was an area in which she wanted to make a difference. Her experience illustrates that reducing plastic is not for the faint-hearted!

Here’s Julie’s story…. Plastic is choking our oceans and harming our wildlife. Last year I decided to try for a month to do my grocery shop without single-use plastic. I bought some kraft paper bags and greaseproof paper, and put them in a cloth bag to take as a packaging alternative. So began a plastic-free journey of 9 months and counting.


It is difficult. I estimate around 95% of produce in supermarkets is unavailable to me. All the visible plastic in supermarkets makes me feel sick. Most difficult is dairy. Milk in bottles is delivered to the door, but I need to make my own yoghurt, cream and cottage cheese. Buying blocks of cheese is a rare treat. I cut down on meat and fish in order to save money; plastic-free is expensive. Loose goods displayed in baskets that look eco-friendly pose an ethical dilemma as they have often arrived at the shop in plastic and have been removed from this packaging for display. Meat and cheese counters are reluctant to serve me produce in my own packaging, fearing ‘crosscontamination’. My butcher ordered waxed paper especially for me only to find the ‘wax’ was plastic, heat-sealed to the paper.

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Some compromises are frustratingly inevitable. I don’t have space to store cat food in tins, so I recycle cat food pouches instead. My boys crave crisps so occasionally I buy a well known brand in a cardboard tube but with a plastic lid. I tried using tooth tablets but returned to toothpaste in a plastic tube when the enamel on my teeth became compromised. I wrecked my hair with shampoo bars and home shampoo remedies, so now I buy proper shampoo but in recycled/ recyclable plastic bottles. Plastic-free online communities are multiplying, and some are helpful, but some posts give mixed messages. Plastic is bad for the oceans but alternatives can be worse for the climate. One product removes plastic but adds harmful parabens. As a consumer I’m left overwhelmed, disempowered and outfaced, and the only answer is to do one thing at a time; small steps. At least it is not doing nothing. However, what initially seemed impossible has become transformative. I, a single working mum, do without single-use plastic as a sustainable lifestyle. I enjoy the weekly shop I used to hate. I visit local traders who remember me. I have swapped the lonely drudge of the supermarket aisle for the pleasure of swapping recipes with friendly people in short queues. I shop faster, being served in small shops where the choice is less overwhelming. I enjoy cooking from scratch, which is tastier, healthier and less wasteful. I create a quarter of the rubbish that I used to, most of which can be recycled. Through my example, conversations and blog I am changing the habits of those I meet. This is the grass roots where the revolution begins.

Julie was delighted when her local butcher Mr Flynn bought butchers’ paper especially for her purchases, but both she and Mr. Flynn got a surprise when it arrived coated in plastic rather than the expected wax.

The inside of Julie’s fridge

This article was kindly contributed by Julie Shaw who also writes a blog on the subject. Find her at Or on Facebook at:

WO Issue 33 | Shoppers & Sustainability


Out & about

and in the press... Real words from the high street. Brought to you by the keen ears of the Shoppercentric team... My son is doing food tech, so he’s introducing us to more diverse flavours – it’s a shame he doesn’t wash up as well as he cooks! I find it (online grocery shopping) a bit laborious – you put in orange juice and get 400 choices! People (shoppers) have less time and patience and need things put in front of them

In the press...

We scored an article in the Daily Telegraph based on our poll of the ‘attractiveness of Jeremy vs Boris’. Sadness is our overwhelming emotion when we look at politicians, software reveals... Read more at:

I’ve a really busy house full – fitting in sleep is a problem! I’m vegan, so I don’t actually eat anything… They (brands) spend so much time and money on what the products look like, and then just list it on the (grocers) website


WO Issue 33 | Shoppers & Sustainability

Have you heard?

In case you hadn’t already heard, on 26th June we announced the signing of an exclusive global partnership with cloud-based neuroscience provider MindTrace. MindTrace harnesses existing technology to accurately identify, for any marketing asset shown (e.g. marcomms, packs, products, concepts, website), what attracts consumers attention, how they feel about what they have seen and how deep their engagement is. These measures have been proven to be predictive of actual buying behaviour, which means we are now able to offer our clients an exciting new insight opportunity. If you want to hear more, please contact us:

We are speaking at...

Danielle Pinnington, Founder of Shoppercentric, is speaking at the POPAI Shopper Seminar in Manchester on October 1st 2019. Danielle will be discussing the pitfalls of in-store navigation. Highights: l Navigation is about making retail spaces easier to shop - but that takes more than just signage l Good navigation encourages quality dwell time - not frustrating hunting l Disruption is not always a good thing! Find out more online at:

WO Issue 33 | Shoppers & Sustainability



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thelastword... We thought we’d let our clients have the last word by telling you what they think of us... Your proposal was far more compelling, and clearly really understood the brief. Category Manager, Manufacturer

Can I thank you for today? This has really been very thought provoking! It was really great. So much to go at. Manufacturer

You did a great job of facilitating / re-focusing the workshop agenda to meet the needs of a challenging customer.

33 Brought to you by Shoppercentric,

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Global Customer Manager, Manufacturer

I just wanted to send a quick note to thank you again for today. I thought it was a really clear and very well presented debrief with a lot of actionable insights that we can take both to our customers and use for our internal discussions. The team clearly shared this view, the brand manager mentioned that it was one of the best research debriefs she has attended and the category managers were also really happy with it - so some really strong feedback from both the brand and the category side as well. Well done! Shopper Insights Manager, Manufacturer

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