Kantar debuts sustainability study in India

26 Aug,2021

By Our Staff

Kantar, the data-driven analytics and brand consulting company, has released preliminary findings from a new study exploring what sustainability means to Indian consumers. Kantar’s Asia Sustainability Foundational Study interviewed nearly 10,000 consumers across nine countries in the region, including India, to understand their concerns and priorities.

Key findings from the India Sustainability Foundational study include:

• In India, a country faced with numerous socio-economic issues, resource scarcity and environmental challenges, the issues closest to home take precedence for consumers.

• And despite these challenges as a developing nation, the concerns of Indian consumers go beyond their basic rights, as sustainability issues are interlinked with their daily lives.

• The top 5 sustainability concerns of Indian consumers are:

1. Water pollution

2. Poverty and hunger

3. Deforestation

4. Lack of access to healthcare and vaccinations

5. Air pollution

• Consumers’ concerns vary depending on the category in question, so brands developing their sustainability strategy need to understand this in order to focus their efforts. For example, consumers expect food brands to avoid over packaging and to discourage wastage. To gain competitive advantage in this category, brands need a credible back story around the “farm to fork” journey of their products – and to demonstrate that they are taking steps to minimise the impacts of intensive farming such as over-use of pesticides.

Around 48% of consumers in India are active and engaged on sustainability issues. This group is more conscious of the impact of their own choices. 77% say they are prepared to invest time and money in companies that try to do good. But intent is not always translating into action; 84% of consumers still prioritise saving money over saving the planet when it comes to their real-world actions.

Though most Indians express willingness to spend time and money to support companies that do good, the Value-Action Gap is still significant, with consumers often failing to act on these good intentions. For example, 65% of consumers report that they throw recyclable waste in the trash or dustbin.

Further, the study measures the three factors persistently undermining sustainable consumer behaviour:

• Cost – at the time of purchase, 84% say they prioritise saving money over saving the planet.

• Comfort – 76% say they do not have enough information to choose sustainable options.

• Convenience – 72% say they tend to forget about sustainability in their busy day-to-day lives.

The research additionally introduces Kantar’s Sustainability Framework which businesses can use to build a consumer-centric strategy for success. This leverages a ‘Sword and Shield’ approach to better understand how brands in different categories can responsibly navigate sustainability issues by identifying where to focus their attention, how to localise their brand purpose to address local consumer tensions, and how to innovate to overcome the Value-Action-Gap.

Commenting on the findings, Paru Minocha, Head of Sustainable Transformation Practice, at Kantar’s India office  said: “India’s stage of growth and increasing consumer consciousness regarding sustainability gives it huge potential to create commercial value and address environmental and social issues. Consumers are looking for brands that have social and environmental purpose, so from a marketing standpoint, purpose is imperative, and sustainability will potentially drive consumer choice. Our research illustrates the importance of taking a local approach to sustainability issues. While a company purpose could be a global constant, translating that into action needs to take into consideration the tensions that exist in each market. For the first time, through this foundational study we are able to identify which sustainability issues consumers care about most and how that should translate to action depending on the consumer category. The immediate task ahead is to find levers to unlock this behaviour change.”

Added Jonathan Hall, Managing Partner, Kantar Sustainable Transformation Practice: “Kantar’s Sustainability Foundational Study uniquely identifies the social and environmental issues that are relevant for consumers on a sector-by-sector basis in India and across the world. Brands have the opportunity to apply the lens of their purpose to understand where to play in the space and to create interventions that are meaningful for different consumer segments. In this way, brand can help people align their actions with their sustainable beliefs and close the Value-Action Gap.”

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