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Consumers care more about sustainability than ever before, Global Consumer survey reveals

Retail Leader for PwC Africa, Anton Hugo, said it is positive to note that optimism among consumers is on the rise. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

Retail Leader for PwC Africa, Anton Hugo, said it is positive to note that optimism among consumers is on the rise. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 10, 2021

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Cape Town - In response to the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers had to adapt their buying habits and a new survey is suggesting that these changes in consumer behaviour are not fleeting, but permanent.

PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey seeks to keep a closer watch on changing consumer trends and solve important problems. It found that of 9 370 consumers across 26 territories, of which 503 were in South Africa, those who are vaccinated (66%) are much more positive about the future compared to unvaccinated respondents (43%).

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Retail Leader for PwC Africa, Anton Hugo, said it is positive to note that optimism among consumers is on the rise.

“As optimism continues, so consumers are planning to spend more, and they are seeing improvements in their lifestyle as employers allow new ways of working.

“Some things, however, never change: when it comes to shopping, price and convenience still matter most, even as other factors, such as sustainability, are increasingly on consumers’ minds,” Hugo said.

Change the Conversation executive Jess Mokoena said changing consumer behaviour signifies a dramatic shift.

Consumers are taking sustainability into account in shopping decisions more than ever: 52% of global respondents (SA: 59%) say they are more ecofriendly than they were six months ago, 22% of South African consumers stated that they buy products to support retailers that sell biodegradable and eco-friendly products.

Head of sustainability at Pick n Pay, Andre Nel, said the pandemic had accelerated awareness of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.

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“There is no doubt in consumers’ minds that ESG matters. Given that Pick n Pay’s efforts to embed ESG issues date from the 1970s, heightened ESG expectations are a very positive development.

“As one of South Africa’s largest retailers, we embrace every opportunity to make a positive impact while promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive food supply chains.

“We buy just over 95% of our food and groceries locally and increasingly use small local suppliers who are providing sustainable products.

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“We have an active energy management programme and are using 10% less energy than 10 years ago but with 76% more stores.

“This year, we diverted more than 60% of all waste from landfills and donated R39 million of excess food to FoodForward SA,” said Nel.

Globally, half of respondents (51% compared to 54% in South Africa) also say that when considering a purchase, they factor in whether the product was produced with a traceable and transparent origin.

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