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News & Insight from Retail Jeweller: Consumers more environmentally conscious post-lockdown, finds report

20 Jul 2020

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A new ‘conscious consumer’, more aware of the environmental impact of their purchases, has emerged from the coronavirus lockdown, according to a new research report by PFS and LiveArea.


The report, titled ‘Selling Sustainability: Adapting to the New Conscious Consumer’, found that consumer attention in the UK and Ireland has turned to the sustainability of the buying cycle and the environmental impact associated with their changing shopping habits.

Over a third of UK and Irish shoppers now say that they are more conscious of the environmental impact their online shopping habits have, than before the pandemic.

Meanwhile, nearly three-quarters of consumers expect online retailers and brands to use recyclable packaging or minimise their use of packaging at 73% and 74% respectively.

According to the data, 35% of consumers now say that when making a purchase, a product must be naturally sourced, locally sourced or sustainable. Over half (56%) of respondents also said they prefer to buy products that can be delivered from within their own country.

Only 37% of consumers are satisfied with the communication from online retailers or brands on the environmental impact of the groceries and household product items they have bought.

43% of consumers state their preferred shopping methods as being in-store purchase and buy online pick-up in store. These preferences are largely due to the perceived lower environmental impact when compared to ordering goods online which are then sent out for delivery.

Although many millennials admit to still over-purchasing and returning items, 30% compared to 16% of all consumers, the Covid-19 pandemic has altered consumer habits, with 37% of all shoppers having stopped over-purchasing as a result. Due to the pandemic, 30% of shoppers are also returning fewer items than they used to over environmental concerns.

The survey findings reveal that half of consumers in France always check an item’s credentials, compared to over a third at 38% of those in the UK and Republic of Ireland. This suggests that changes in shopping habits, which might have been forced upon them due to something beyond their control, have been a wake-up call for individuals and brands alike.

Almost three-quarters at 72% of consumers said they plan to continue with their changed shopping habits following the pandemic, whilst 40% of consumers feel that online retailers and brands should continue with reduced carbon footprint initiatives which include changes to product delivery and sourcing.

Christophe Pecoraro, managing director of PFS Europe, commented: “For retailers, a change in behaviour and beliefs means they must work even harder to gain and maintain loyalty from consumers by positioning themselves as a brand that understands the needs and desires of its customers throughout the entire buying journey.

“Getting the balance right is important, but so too is authenticity. Consumers can see through empty gestures – substance is essential. Consumers are now more carefully considering what, where and how they buy items. The brands that meet these needs will be best positioned to thrive in the future.”

Benoit Soucaret, creative director at LiveArea EMEA, added: “Our research clearly highlights the immediate need for brands to be more environmentally responsible. The Covid-19 pandemic has made consumers reassess what’s important to them and their own personal impact on the planet. Now more than ever these conscious consumers expect brands to deliver on sustainability and are looking for them to communicate how they are doing this.”

PFS and LiveArea commissioned research agency, Arlington Research, to survey 2,500 consumers in the UK, Republic of Ireland and France about their current shopping habits, environmental and ethical expectations from online retailers and brands, and how their buying behaviour has changed during the Coronavirus pandemic. The research took place between 28 May and 4 June 2020.

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