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The Need for Sustainability Driving Change in the Grocery Industry

Posted by Heather Parker on 3/14/16 3:20 PM
Heather Parker
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The health conscious consumer is stretching far beyond concerns of saturated fats and calorie counting. Several considerations have entered the minds of consumers that play a significant role in buying decisions:  

  • The quality of life for animals
  • The environmental impact of mass food production
  • The ethical and economical behaviors of a company or corporation

With the rise of these sustainability factors influencing consumer buying decisions, the industry has subsequently seen growth in the ways consumers are gathering information about their favorite companies. Gone are the days of choosing a grocery store simply by location or convenience or price. Consumers are now taking to the internet and social media for information first and then making their decisions.

Consumer Knowledge Driving Customer Loyalty

Recently, we discussed the new competitive market for traditional grocers created by the need for instant gratification and the rise in technology. Yet it seems both industries face a common threat: knowledge. With so many ways to acquire information about a company (whether accurate or inaccurate), knowledge can have a direct impact on the choices made by consumers. The growth of social media and accessibility to information has led to the opportunity for anyone, anywhere to voice their opinions, about anything. For grocers, this can be positive or negative. One negative tweet, or one negative blog, with the right amount of followers, can cause an alarming amount of disruption in the overall performance of your stores. Alternatively, one positive article, or one positive testament to your ethical business practices can help skyrocket your sales.

Sustainability Movements: Grocers Going Green

In a world where the consumer voice is louder than ever, grocers have evolved by listening to their customers to build strategies to achieve sustainable growth.

While Whole Foods may have been under fire recently for specific marketing tactics, the plan to install as many as 100 solar panel systems on nearly a quarter of its stores and distribution centers is definitely a step in the green direction. Not only does this initiative cut costs for the organic supermarket chain, it will “increase the percentage of renewable energy that is generated in communities where we work,” (Kathy Luftus).

Additionally, grocery retail giant, Kroger, recently committed to a goal of a 100% cage-free egg supply chain by 2025.

The Need for Sustainability

No matter the green initiative, whether its renewable energy or building relationships with local farmers to offer more organic products, the end consumer wants to know about it. Alternatively, grocers actually need the consumer to know about it in order to survive. A consumer fad is nothing new in the grocery industry, but the focus on sustainability has only grown in years past, confirming the dire need for change.

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Topics: Consumer Insights, Grocery, Consumer Behavior, Sustainablity

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