This report draws primarily on an online survey of 1,856 U.S. adults conducted in September 2008 by The Hartman Group to understand consumer attitudes and behaviors related to sustainability.
Online PR News – 18-September-2009 – – The food and beverage market is central to consumer perceptions of sustainability. When the consumption of sustainable foods is motivated by personal benefits, adoption mirrors a health and wellness progression in which consumers first consider the impacts of things in the body, followed by on the body, and finally around the body. Therefore, as consumers become more educated about the environmental, social, and economic implications of foods and beverages, their health and wellness motivations dovetail with societal concerns, such that food shopping choices become salient to all four zones of sustainability:
#The Personal Benefit Zone
#The Environmental Zone
#The Social Zone
#The Economic Zone
In addition, many of the attributes that generally describe quality eating experiences, particularly freshness, also resonate as sustainable in the food and beverage market.
Measurement of sustainable products purchases across 20 food and beverage categories shows a range of adoption rates among sustainability-minded consumers as well as a range in willingness to pay a 20% cost premium. Nonetheless, while sustainability consumers have certainly modified their behavior in response to financial conditions, tradeoffs and cutbacks, they are less likely to be made in product categories they view as essential to their quality of life, including food.
To balance the agenda to save money with the commitment to buy sustainable goods, many consumers are shifting purchases of these products to discount outlets such as Walmart. At the same time (and in response), supermarkets are upping the sustainability credentials of their private-label lines, opening up another pathway to sustainable-at-a-discount shopping. Retailers are also stressing sustainability options outside of the packaged goods aisles, notably local produce and bulk merchandise. At the current intersection of sustainability awareness and financial downturn, the market is ripe for food and beverage products that allow consumers to shop more sustainably but also spend less money.
This report was jointly produced by The Hartman Group, and is based on The Hartman Group’s 2009 multi-category study, Sustainability: The Rise of Consumer Responsibility. In focusing on the food and beverage market, this report draws on additional data from The Hartman Group’s primary quantitative research. In addition, provides an update of consumer attitudes and spending.
The Hartman Group Quantitative and Qualitative Methods
This report draws primarily on an online survey of 1,856 U.S. adults conducted in September 2008 by The Hartman Group to understand consumer attitudes and behaviors related to sustainability. The sample was drawn from a panel of adult U.S. consumers with Internet access, and was designed to provide good representation of the U.S. population according to geographic area, age, gender, race and income. The Hartman Group also conducted qualitative research on sustainability in three markets (Seattle, Dallas, and Columbus) during August 2008, using consumer ethnography with 50 consumers as the cornerstone of qualitative research. Ethnographic interviews included one-on-one conversations at an individual’s home or at a specific retail setting, as well as group interviews also at consumers’ homes. These engagements garnered more than 100 hours of in-depth, revelatory consumer discussion.
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