Climate change and the environment now feature in the news on a daily basis and our data shows how important these issues are to families and how they also influence their purchasing decisions.
Walkers Crisps – the 5th favourite snack of children – have announced the launch of a national recycling scheme, claiming it was the first of its kind for Britain. The brand had been accused of adding to the growing amount of single-use plastic waste by producing more than 7,000 non-recyclable crisp packets every minute.
As might be expected in today’s constantly-connected world, a social media campaign urging consumers to mail their empty packets back to Walkers had viral success and in a further sign of the times, this social pressure then lead to the brand taking action.
As we see in Parents Insights, Millennial parents (who make up over 70% of new parents) have been a major disruptor of the retail industry, and they are raising a generation with an even stronger set of values who will demand more from brands.
Over half of expecting parents are purchasing free-range products, with almost half buying either organic or local goods.
With ethical, local and organic purchasing being an important factor, brands must demonstrate strong values to this generation of parents – especially when it comes to feeding their new family.
Environmental awareness amongst the next generation also continues to increase, with our data showing that over a quarter of all 16 to 18-year-olds (or ‘Gen Z’ as this age group is often referred to) also consider the environment to be an issue which concerns them.
Integrity is vital in appealing to Gen Z, as they have never lived in a world without instant access to the internet via a smartphone, and therefore the ability to connect with others and share content and opinions.
Companies are now realising, therefore, that a clear and transparent environmental strategy can put them at a competitive advantage. Brands that can build an authentic narrative of the local, healthy and organic properties of their offering will be well placed. Brands must become storytellers creating an engaging and, crucially, shareable (or ‘Instagram-able’) narrative.
This goes far beyond storytelling – brands must also “walk the walk”.
Smaller businesses can take advantage of their ability to respond quickly to this changing landscape. By contrast, bigger businesses must be prepared to open themselves to the scrutiny of this generation of super-informed, values-driven, influential future consumers.
Changing landscape: Threat or Opportunity?
Earlier this week, the Environmental Minister placed pressure on McDonald’s to ban plastic toys in children’s Happy Meals, as she called for brands to make symbolic changes to show they are cutting down on single use plastics. She said; “I desperately want McDonald to give up their happy meal toys … a piece of plastic that lasts for about five minutes and then takes five centuries to degrade.”
Children’s magazines were also under similar pressure earlier this year regarding their free toy giveaways – again accused of creating excess plastic waste.
There are now gaps in the market for plastic-free, eco-friendly toys.
According to Technavio, eco-friendly toys will play a key role in the predicted 11% growth of the global ‘educational sector’ over the next few years, as manufacturers (and many start-ups) are developing products that cause less harm to the environment.
Moving forward into 2019 and beyond, we expect to see environmental awareness become a main feature of many customer facing strategies as brands seek to maintain relevance with this cohort.
As family values continue to lean towards guilt-free consumption, these shifts by big brands show that the next generation are not simply passive consumers but expect to directly influence the brands they engage with. It is more important than ever before that businesses ensure their decision making is informed by timely and relevant data.