WGSN, the global authority on trend forecasting, has released on 21 October its White Paper – ‘Create Better: Innovating Towards a Sustainable Future’ that outlines the key consumer mindsets shaping the conversation on sustainability and the actionable strategies to engage with them.
WGSN social media data showed that sustainability continues to be a key priority, with the topic remaining relevant among beauty, fashion, interiors and food and drink influencers across social media. Furthermore, findings from a 2020 World Economic Forum survey found that 86% of respondents want to see more sustainable and equitable products in the post-pandemic market. Brands will need to engage with the key consumer mindsets to thrive in this growing market.
WGSN highlights the following 3 consumer mindsets:
- Democratic sustainability: The value-driven consumer, whose sustainability expectations are focused on both the price point and accessability of products and services. Increasingly driven by value for money and a need for independence, this cohort will seek convenient, local solutions that simplify their life and give them a regained sense of control.
- Active sustainability: The purpose-driven consumer is channelling their fears about the climate emergency into hope and action. They are willing to adopt new behaviours in order to reduce their ecological footprint and want to participate in changing the world for the better.
- Outsourced sustainability: The disengaged consumer – this cohort is driven by a sense of mistrust in institutions and rejects the responsibility of minimising their personal environmental impact. Instead, they place their expectations on businesses to step in and lead environmental transformation.
WGSN has identified the following strategies to engage with these consumers:
- Focus on affordability and accessibility: 63% of consumers consider value for money a key purchase driver, according to research from KPMG. Brands will need to prioritise convenience and affordability when engaging value-driven customers with more sustainable offers, products and services.
- Help consumers buy more sustainably: 57% of consumers are willing to change their purchasing behaviour to be more responsible, according to an IBM Institute for Business Value survey. Brands looking to engage purpose-driven customers should provide products that support a shift towards more sustainable purchasing, from personal carbon footprint-tracking apps to zero-waste options.
- Build trust with educational material: According to a State of Plastic Recycling report, two-thirds of adults do not recycle all their plastic waste due to a lack of information and confidence in the recycling system. Brands wanting to win over disengaged consumers should provide truthful and reliable content that helps them navigate complex topics related to sustainability, such as instructions on how to recycle products at the end of their lifecycle.
Carla Buzasi, President & CEO of WGSN said, “Governments, businesses and individuals are using the upheaval of the pandemic as a chance to reset, and this has become intrinsically linked with building back more sustainably and equitably. For brands, this represents immense opportunities, but also great risks for those that don’t move with the moment. Our white paper provides a toolkit to thrive in this time of transition, outlining the areas where businesses can win, the strategies for success, and the consumer profiles brands need to be talking to now.”
An important part of the White Paper includes Food & Drink Industry Insights which tackle the following issues:
- The popularity of plant-based meat alternatives would have been hard to believe 10 years ago, but is fast growing on consumers. Next on the horizon for the industry includes cell-grown meat, smart spoilage sensors to reduce food waste, and the rise of the carbon-positive climatarian diet.
- Plant-based alternatives is the leading social media topic at an industry level
- Farming/agriculture is the rising dominant concern, suggesting solutions to alleviate this impact will be increasingly important
- Cell-based food is surging in popularity. For F&B brands – if investing in cell-based meats when approved, they need to also invest in education materials, marketing outreach, sampling opportunities and other communications to inform and engage curious eaters, and to build trust in these new meats.
- Brands need to identify their biggest carbon contributors and tackle them first. While carbon footprints are challenging to calculate with no global standard, there are reputable local organisations that can help brands achieve transparency.
- Reducing food waste will require doing things dramatically differently. This may include partnering outside of a brand’s industry and rethinking how products are made.
 Data from WGSN’s proprietary global map of Instagram influencers across fashion, beauty, interiors and food and drink used to track the lifecycle of trends. WGSN uses image recognition technology to classify images posted by these influencers at scale. Graphs below
 2020 World Economic Forum survey of 21,000 people from 28 countries.
 A KPMG 2020 survey of more than 75,000 respondents across 12 markets.
 An IBM Institute for Business Value survey of 18,980 consumers in 28 countries.
 Over 5,500 adults across four markets.