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Market Insights

The sustainable consumer

The sustainable consumer

In times of Greta Thunberg and the #FridaysforFuture movement, the topic of sustainability is booming like never before in Germany. Recent research by M Science* (research unit of Group M) reveals that the potential for marketers is huge, particularly in the food sector.

A huge opportunities for advertisers

More than half of Germans (57 percent) are now very interested in the topic of sustainability. However, despite the huge interest, only 41 percent feel well informed about sustainable consumption. For brands, this opens up an excellent opportunity to position themselves in the sustainability environment with appropriate advertising.

Many people find it positive when brands address the topic of sustainability in their advertising messages (49 percent). At the same time, however, only a small group (23 percent) feel sustainability in advertising is mostly credible. Authenticity seems to be of particularly high relevance here: Advertising must fit the brand.

The target group is out there and accessible

According to some 30 million Germans, the topic of sustainability is important to them; among them, some 9 million have a "sustainable attitude" across various psychographic characteristics. These target groups are more commonly female, have an above-average net household income and are more often employed in administration, health care or education/research/teaching.

As far as media use is concerned, people with a solid "sustainable attitude" have an affinity for radio and print media. They also use VoD --/streaming services or TV media libraries with above-average frequency. When it comes specifically to information on the topic of sustainability, they increasingly seek out personal conversations. Also magazines, online forums or podcasts are of above-average relevance. Among the social networks, Facebook (45 percent), YouTube (28 percent) and Instagram (25 percent) are the clear leaders.

For what kind of product purchases does sustainability play a role?

Sustainability is the most relevant topic for people when it comes to buying food. Indeed, 64% admit to taking notice of sustainability when buying food.  It is the least relevant when it comes to buying clothes, with only 36% saying it plays a role. In the food sector in particular, selection criteria associated with sustainability (e.g. regionality or organic label) are also classified as more relevant on average than those not directly associated with sustainability, such as brand or price. In the electrical appliance, energy and clothing industry the consumer purchasing criteria is dominated by non-sustainability related criteria. The cosmetics sector is reasonably balanced between sustainable and non-sustainable criteria.

Interestingly, among those who value sustainability, the willingness to pay more is most pronounced when it comes to buying organic eggs.

These findings were based on a representative online survey of 1,500 people in Germany carried out by M Science between 25.04.2019 and 06.05.2019. Read the original research