Footprint insight: Nothing but the truth

ANOTHER WEEK, another survey suggesting consumers want to buy sustainable products – and they’re willingly pay more for them.

Foodservice Footprint 1 Footprint insight: Nothing but the truth Features Features

The latest research is from Nielsen, which polled 30,000 people online to “gain better insight into how consumers show they care”. The results?


Two thirds (66%) of respondents say they’re willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact – up from 55% in 2014 and 50% in 2013.


What’s more, a commitment to the environment has the power to “sway product purchase” for almost one in two consumers (45%), whilst 59% say they are attracted to things that have health and wellness benefits.


Mintel research this summer suggested pretty much the same trend: more than one in two shoppers (52%) would “stop buying food from a company acting unethically”.


This all reminded me of some research DEFRA carried out in 2011, in which it assessed people’s attitudes to animal welfare, British seasonal produce, ethical produce, a healthy balanced diet, sustainably sourced fish and environmental sustainability.


The department discovered that almost two thirds of consumers said buying ethical products is important and 30% “seek out” Fairtrade tea and coffee. Do they actually buy then though?


“The figures indicate that people’s preferences don’t always match what they ultimately buy, with price being a major factor in many people’s buying decisions,” the research concluded.


This is, in fact, the well-known 30:3 phenomenon: 30% of people describe themselves as “ethical purchasers” and yet ethical products rarely achieve more than 3% market share.


So market research companies can keep churning out polls showing how the “30” has now become “50”, but this will have no value until we know how that relates to the “3”. Has it even changed?