New Delhi: Indian shoppers are becoming more aware and conscious of what they are buying and as a result willing to buy in to brands that follow ethical and sustainable practices, according to a CII-AT Kearney report on sustainable retail.
The Confederation of Indian Industries, an industry body, on Friday hosted India Retail Summit and held sessions on sustainable practices followed by retailers and brands. “There is increasing affinity with brand prestige and sustainability, and a willingness to shift purchases towards brands with higher ethical practices and sustainable processes," CII and AT Kearney said in a report citing the latter’s earlier global survey.
Indian consumers were most likely to shift towards brands that were sustainable and trustworthy, the report said. In its report AT Kearney said that over 70% of those surveyed by the company in India said they are looking for brands that are sustainable and trustworthy, much higher that their global counterparts. "While the trend has picked pace globally, with brands across the value chain talking about adopting more sustainable practices, sourcing ethically, and reducing their carbon footprint in India such concerns among consumers are small but beginning to impact brands," said Debashish Mukherjee, leads, consumer industries & retail products practice, AT Kearney.
“In India, it is already trickling into the numbers. If brands do not build that trust going forward, they will lose out not just the millennial consumers but the Gen Z consumers as well. It is showing up in their demands and in the P&L in a small manner," Mukherjee said while addressing the opening session for the summit.
"Indian consumers’ purchasing habits dovetail with global trends. This shift indicates a need for retailers to immediately develop capabilities, to meet this change in purchasing patterns. Retailers ignoring this trend will likely miss out on a sizeable opportunity to tap into a new, growing, “green" consumer base," AT Kearney’s report said.
AT Kearney noted that consumers in India are in fact willing to pay more for environmentally friendly or socially minded brands across categories such as automobiles, apparel, personal care, fresh and packaged foods. Millennials and Gen Z were the most willing to pay among other cohorts for such goods in India.
For many years, conversations around sustainability were shunned in the background as they didn’t figure in consumer decision making. But that has changed as shoppers get more aware and curious about what they eat, wear and what impact their consumption habits have on the environment at large.
In fact, earlier this year, the Indian government proposed to ban the use of single use plastic in the country prompting makers of bottled water, and plastic cutlery to look for alternatives. Even though the government has for now stayed an immediate ban of such goods, companies and consumers are taking note and seeking alternatives wherever feasible.
Shashwat Goenka, sector head, Spencer’s Retail said that moving forward the industry, at large, will need to follow more sustainable practices, especially “as consumption is going up in the country—usage of packaging that is not very sustainable is also going up".
However, he added in a value-conscious market like India retailers and brands will need to find cheaper alternatives to plastic packaging. "We don’t want to go in a place where a decade from now we become a big consumption economy –and that’s when we realise it is something we need to fight," he said.
"Today, alternative and eco-friendly packaging is more expensive—it is more the upwardly mobile strata of the society who is willing to pay for it. We need to make alternative and sustainable forms of packing more economical so they can be adopted en mass," he added.