Don’t back sustainability at your peril – study

Don’t back sustainability at your peril – study

Scottish consumers feel particularly strongly that retailers that don’t back sustainability will lose out according to an industry survey.

Research carried out by TWC – in collaboration with the Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) – reveals that 63% of Scottish consumers agreed that retailers who don’t take sustainability or environmental issues seriously will fall behind.

The proportion of people feeling this way is higher than the rest of the UK, with 54% answering similarly elsewhere in Britain.

The survey also found that 27% of Scottish consumers agreed that environmental and sustainability issues are influencing there they shop for groceries, but this represents a significant drop versus TWC Trends Autumn 2021 when 38% of Scots agreed.

It appears that there is a high expectation that irrespective of their own actions, consumers expect businesses to be focused on sustainability – with 63% of Scottish consumers agreeing that all companies should be focussed on their environmental impact.

The bottom line, particularly during the current cost-of-living crisis, is that many consumers are unwilling – or unable – to pay extra for sustainability benefits. Half of the consumers surveyed agreed that they want to make sustainable choices, but they are not willing to pay extra for this benefit.

Interestingly, consumers aged 55+ and those without children were most likely to agree to this statement and yet the research also highlighted these groups as the least likely to be struggling financially at the current time. This could suggest that it’s not just about being able to afford to pay a premium, but that some consumers are simply unwilling to pay more for this benefit, putting a greater onus on businesses to absorb any additional costs.

“The research is very interesting as it clearly shows consumers are ever more conscious that change is required and businesses need to be more sustainable,” said SWA Chief Executive, Colin Smith.

“However, if consumers are unwilling to pay for such investment, what does this mean for retailers and the wholesalers that supply them? Our breakfast briefing will look at this and discuss who will ultimately end up paying?”

The research will be further analysed and shared in a breakfast briefing webinar – ‘Sustainability and the Scottish Consumer’ – hosted by SWA and presented by Sarah Coleman, Director of Communications at TWC, on Tuesday 13 September, 9:00-9:30am. Registration can be made here: