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How environmental concerns are changing consumer choices

Nearly three-quarters of British consumers strongly agree that protecting the environment is one of the most important issues of our times, which is perhaps no surprise given the IPCC’s recent report that it’s now or never if the world is to stave off climate disaster.

quantilope’s 2022 Consumer Trends in Sustainability report, launched this week, finds that shoppers are doing their bit for the planet, with half checking for sustainable ingredients on packaging and paying attention to the displays/information shown on shelves. One third are so rigorous about what’s in their food and drink that they check for certifications on the package and look for direct sustainability claims (34% and 35% respectively).

Less waste

Around three quarters of shoppers actively attempt to reduce waste (77%) and more than half (51%) plan to use less plastic.

Some plastic packaging is inevitable of course and one-third of survey respondents claim to separate waste for recycling.

Concrete changes

Price comes first

However, with fast rising inflation and the worst cost of living crisis in a century, the decision about which food and drink brands to purchase is ultimately led by price for the majority (79%) of British shoppers.

Purchasing aspects

In fact, money, or lack of with rising inflation, is claimed to be a barrier to adopting more sustainable shopping practices for more than half of shoppers, with just one in five making planet friendly choices that prioritise sustainable packaging.

Barrier to adopting more sustainable shopping practices

Mixed messages

The research also highlights confusion about what products are sustainable, suggesting that brands need to make their sustainability messaging clearer in both external communications and on packaging. With over 25 different recycle standard labels in use it is hard for the consumer choose. As a waste warrior myself, I would like to see a traffic light system as we have with dietary information in food.

When the action is easy to slot into everyday life, people are happy to take it. With rising inflation threatening disposable income, it is critical that manufacturers understand how changes they make to product pricing and packaging can impact consumer decisions.

Brands that will be best placed to win in the future, recognise that not all consumers are the same and have different attitudes around sustainability. They need to address the sustainability concerns of consumers, tailor their approach and communicate what they do clearly and without making them pay too much of a premium.


quantilope surveyed 1,200 consumers in the UK and Germany to better understand changing attitudes towards sustainability; looking specifically at how it was influencing food choices and whether there were any barriers to more planet-friendly shopping behaviours.

Written by Carl West, client development director for technology provider quantilope

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