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Discounts, not sustainability, attract Belgian shoppers

Credit: Belga

Efforts by Belgian supermarkets to promote ecological initiatives do not attract shoppers as much as low prices and discounts, a new study of consumer habits has found.

According to the results of a study on “unconscious motivation” carried out by Beyond Reason and The House of Marketing, shoppers aren’t massively influenced by a supermarket’s efforts to promote sustainability. Conversely, customers who do make an effort to reduce their ecological footprint do so of their own accord rather than under the influence of supermarkets.

“Despite the best efforts of supermarkets to differentiate themselves from their competitors, to consumers they look the same and offer a similar shopping experience, which is never fully satisfying,” the study found.

This study focused on the underlying and psychological motivations (or implicit motivations) that lead consumers to choose a particular supermarket brand. It focused on the major supermarket brands in Belgium: Albert Heijn, Aldi, Carrefour, Colruyt, Delhaize and Lidl; and 1,491 citizens aged 18 and over were interviewed in July.

The results show that what matters most to consumers is shopping in a safe, healthy and clean environment that protects their private data. These elements scored 46 and 47 out of a maximum of 53. Price and discounts are also important factors of choice (45).

Ecology, on the other hand, did not play much of a role in the choice of a supermarket:

  • The importance of avoiding plastic waste received a score of 30,
  • The importance of measures to reduce CO2 emissions and global warming received an average score of 31,
  • There are slightly higher scores when asked on the importance of reusable and recyclable packaging, which scored 41.

This trend was even more pronounced in younger consumers: among those between 18 and 29, the importance of ecology scored 13, compared to 43 among those aged 66 and over, it notes.

“Customer loyalty is low, and it seems that consumers place the supermarket in the group of commodity suppliers, such as energy and telecom companies, where prices and discounts are a decisive element in consumer choice,” the study concluded.

The Brussels Times

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