Brands can help close the intention-action gap by driving a sense of personal responsibility and making green options readily available, affordable, and convenient, highlights the latest study on Sustainability Trends by Mintel.
Amit Shah, Joint President & Chief Marketing Officer, Flexible Packaging Business, UFlex says, “As one of the global leaders in the flexible packaging industry for whom being sustainable is an intrinsic part of its business approach, we have always strived to encourage sustainable packaging processes. This report is a testament to the belief that even consumers are now aware and more mindful of the importance of sustainable and eco-friendly packaging and its impact on the planet. With the ongoing pandemic, it becomes even more imperative that businesses are encouraged to adopt safer packaging practices and ways to engage with the consumers through packaging, to connect with ‘the packet’ as much as with ‘the packed’. Packaging can be adapted to enable convenience along with continued engagement with the product, and that is certainly something that the food and beverages industry must take into consideration.”
Educating Consumers on How to be Sustainable
Previously, sustainability mainly implied recycling and reducing carbon emissions. Pandemic has led to a demand for brands that create awareness about the environment (48 percent), promote environment-friendly products through trial packs and promotions (47 percent), and implement sustainability practices (44 percent). Brands can assist consumers in choosing more sustainable products by highlighting how these eco-friendly products help the environment, which in turn impacts the overall wellbeing of society.
Moving Price Discussion from Affordability to Quality and Desirability
Consumers complain that both premium and sustainable products are expensive. Brands can focus on product quality, adjust the price to nearly matching regular products, highlight value due to better quality, and emphasize support for local communities, suppliers, and industries/ jobs – thus justifying costs. Sustainable products can be made affordable by incorporating traditional formats such as the usage of steel boxes for milk delivery as well as refillable staples bought from typical Kirana stores.
Consumers Want Brands to Take the Lead
Previously, sustainability mainly implied recycling and reducing carbon emissions. The pandemic accelerated demand for brands to lead by offering trial packs in bio-degradable material, reducing waste in production, using recyclable packaging, and taking the lead in environmental awareness.
Brands can promote sustainable products by highlighting the use of quality ingredients, making sustainable products easier to find, and making it easier to reduce waste. This would help the two in five Indians aged 18-44 who say they want to learn more about how they can help make the world more sustainable.
Brands Can Stand Tall on their Sustainability Claims
As Indians look closer to home for a sense of positive environmental impact, brands can offer more sustainable means of production and cleaner ingredients to meet that demand. For e.g.:
Sustainable Means of Production: FabIndia engages marginalized artisans to produce ethnic fabrics and skincare products, helping them create sustainable livelihoods.
Clean Ingredients: Visibly Flawless Shower Gel- Biotique uses 100 percent organically pure, preservative-free ingredients with no animal testing and environmentally friendly packaging.
Eco-friendly Measures: The Whole Truth has announced its mission to rebuild the trust of consumers on food labels with a new campaign.
Build on the Localism Trend to Promote Sustainability
During the pandemic, the movement towards 'Atmanirbar Bharat' (Self-reliant India) led to consumers becoming more aware of what they consume and how it is made. Deeply rooted in Ayurveda and panchamahabhutas (five elements of nature), native Indian ingredients gained interest in local products that are more likely to be natural and sustainably sourced.
According to Mintel's research, 45 percent of Indians switched to buying locally grown produce since COVID-19, a trend highest among women aged 35-44. This same group of women also led the switch to buy more organic products.
Opportunities for Brands
Enable Consumer Participation Through Transparent and Honest Communication: Consumers will expect brands to help them achieve their sustainability goals and consider transparency and honesty as hygiene factors rather than an added quality.
Sustainability to Premiumisation: Brands that offer products with ethical sources and eco-friendly packaging can position themselves as having a ‘premium’ quality, thus helping them justify the added costs associated with sustainable offerings.
Design Convenient, Sustainable Packaging Options: Incentivising consumers to adopt green alternatives in their daily consumption choices will become a lot easier if consumers see an added value to the purchase beyond just sustainability.
Aid in the 'Vocal for Local' Mission for Sustainable Development: Locally produced offerings can win over consumers as products with communication around local ethical sourcing and domestic production encourage feelings of national pride.
To sum it up, the climate crisis and COVID-19- induced anxiety pushed three in five Indians to prioritize the environment. Brands would do well to highlight their sustainability claims now to build on this momentum. Make products easier to adapt to daily lifestyles by showcasing how eco-friendly products have health, quality, and environmental benefits. Smaller sample products can be a way to allow consumers to test the quality of sustainable products at an affordable price point. Leverage social media to talk about the value and quality of these products.
Food for Thought: Lack of sufficient 'green' options and pricing concerns create an unfavorable environment for consumers looking to switch. Brands can rise to the occasion by creating more products and services that offer choices and incentives to consumers, thereby encouraging viable consumption habits. But this might make skepticism around the cautious consumer; therefore, brands need to meet consumers' scrutiny, peer discussions, online reviews, criticism, and recommendations with a clear, precise product claim to help consumers evaluate the impact of their consumption choices. Brands should use conscious product messaging and see-through brand communication to attract positive relationships and consumer affinity.