Shoppers Want EcoFriendly Grocery Stores; Sustainability Is a Growing Factor In Loyalty And Sales
The results are in for a new groundbreaking study that looks at how consumers decide where to shop, and how retailers are now meeting – and can further meet – the demands of increasingly environmentally aware shoppers. EcoFocus Worldwide, a major research group focused on pinpointing consumer sustainability trends, has released a series of Retailer Toolkits to help you get closer to shoppers than ever before. Each Toolkit offers a new way to walk the aisles with that chain’s shoppers to see how they are rethinking shopping choices and often making new decisions with the environment in mind.

According to the EcoFocus study, 87% of U.S. grocery shoppers are shopping with the environment in mind at least sometimes. Called Consumers Who Care™ by EcoFocus, about one in two of these shoppers want their grocers to be “eco-friendly” and to “make it easy for me to make eco-friendly choices.” But how different retailers are performing for shoppers on these and nine other EcoFocus sustainability measures varies widely, with Publix often leading among the major chains, and Walmart, Meijer, and Winn Dixie lagging behind.

Already, 37% of U.S. Grocery shoppers agree it is important to shop at retailers who require that the products and brands sold in their stores are eco-friendly, and they are increasingly willing to avoid buying products when they’ve learned the manufacturer is not acting responsibly: either socially (48%, up 5 points since 2011) or environmentally (43%, up 3 points since 2011). While it is no surprise that Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s shoppers are more likely to take these actions, it is surprising to see that shoppers at Ahold’s stores, Costco, Wegman’s, and the online retailers Quidsi and are also taking action in this regard more often than other shoppers.

Lisa Harrison, Consumer Research and Insights Leader at EcoFocus, says “the results strongly support the need for more and better communications by retailers to their shoppers. Too many retailers are not giving themselves credit for their eco-friendly activities and commitments. Many need to make it easy for their shoppers to find the eco-friendly brands and products on their shelves. The data clearly shows their shoppers’ priorities and what most impacts their purchases, often identifying hidden assets that can be leveraged for competitive advantages, enhanced shopper loyalty, and increased sales.”

The study findings are reported in a series of 34 EcoFocus Retailer Toolkits, each including 15 chain-specific Scorecards to empower shopper insight, sales, customer development, and category management teams with data and insights on shoppers at traditional grocery, natural, big box, and online retailers. Users gain a competitive edge with new data and shopper insights to:
 Build customer stories to bring shopper interests to life with shopper insights and trend data
 Put ammunition behind shoppers’ demand for green products and better communications
 Be the green expert with insights for opportunities to build or leverage sustainability assets

EcoFocus Worldwide, LLC conducted online interviews with 4,200 U.S. Grocery Shoppers ages 18-65 years at 31 major chains and 2 online retailers in January/February 2012. The data is nationally projectable to the U.S. adult population and statistically valid at the 95% confidence level +/- 1.4%.