Could the battle for your supermarket dollar be in what type of bags (if any) a store offers? This week, Morrisons announced that it would be piloting a project to eliminate plastic bags in some of its stores and only offer paper bags, showing the battle for sustainably minded consumers is far from over.
This is not a new idea as stores and consumers have been scaling back their plastic bag usage for many years, but it signals a decisive position, and it will be up to others to follow suit in the competitive UK supermarket landscape.
Consumers want to shop for products and services that have a sustainable and / or ethical slant. While the pandemic might have made consumers concerned about reusable packaging for hygiene reasons, it appears consumers care about the environment more than ever.
40% of UK consumers say that recycling and reusable packaging is more important or a top priority as a result of Covid-19. In addition, 40% of UK consumers say that plastic-free packaging is more important or a top priority as a result of Covid-19.
Eliminating plastic bags and offering alternative packaging options such as refilling stations for some groceries are easy ways for consumers to feel as if they are making a positive impact. By simply saying no to a plastic bag, consumers feel they are contributing to a better world, while for the retailer, it is a nice opportunity to promote its sustainable practices.
Another key consideration for retailers is at-home delivery. Recently, Tesco eliminated plastic bags from its home delivery service. With consumers either still nervous about going to the supermarket or now accustomed to the convenience of at-home delivery, supermarkets must be able to compete in how sustainable their at-home delivery is. Not only will it create positive PR if a store can claim zero plastic usage or zero-emissions delivery, for example, it can also convince shoppers to click on that store instead of the competition.
That being said, consumers also want convenience. Morrisons’ strategy to remove plastic bags but replace with paper ones was strategic. It does not force consumers to remember to bring their own bags, and instead, they can make a more eco-friendly decision and opt for paper.
The key for retailers in building consumer loyalty is to find a happy medium: provide a convenient and appealing shopping experience that can also help consumers feel good about the impact of their shopping decisions.