The eco consumer: Western Europe has highest number of ‘vocal’ environmental advocates

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

'Eco Active' consumers are also vocal advocates of environmentally-friendly behaviour on social media, says Kantar Worldpanel (Getty Images)
'Eco Active' consumers are also vocal advocates of environmentally-friendly behaviour on social media, says Kantar Worldpanel (Getty Images)

Related tags: Environment, eco-friendly, eco-conscious, plastic waste, environmentally-friendly, Personal care, Personal care packaging, Plastic packaging, reusable packaging, kantar worldpanel

Western Europe has the highest number of consumers consistently working to reduce plastic waste, with many opting for reusable beauty products or those without plastic packaging, finds Kantar Worldpanel.

Climate change is the top global environmental concern among consumers, followed by plastic waste, according to a worldwide survey conducted by Kantar Worldpanel in collaboration with Europanel and GfK on consumer opinion around plastic use in the fast-moving-consumer-goods (FMCG) category.

Conducted across 24 countries with more than 65,000 respondents, the Who Cares? Who Does?​ research indicated Western Europe had the highest number of consumers (21%) “consistently working” ​to reduce plastic waste, a group Kantar Worldpanel labelled ‘Eco Actives’. Globally, this group represented just 16% of consumers; 17% in Eastern Europe; 12% in Latin America and 7% in Asia.

Kantar said Eco Actives were “vocal advocates”​ of environmentally-friendly behaviour on social media and took a ‘bottom-up approach’ in addressing environmental challenges, believing the responsibility lied with them, ahead of manufacturers and retailers – not the case for most consumers. Globally, 48% of consumers expected manufacturers to take the lead in tackling plastic waste.

Four types of ‘eco’ consumers

Kantar Worldpanel has identified four types of Eco Consumers (image copyright Kantar Worldpanel)
Kantar Worldpanel has identified four types of Eco Consumers (image copyright Kantar Worldpanel)

In total, Kantar Worldpanel identified four consumer segments from its research: Eco Actives, Eco Believers, Eco Considerers, and Eco Dismissers.

Eco Actives, it said, “always or frequently”​ took active steps to improve the environment; 68%, for example, used reusable beauty products and 66% tried to avoid products packed in plastic.

Interestingly, Kantar Worldpanel found a large part of this group were aged 50+, with more than 60% of Eco Actives in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Spain and the UK falling into this age bracket.

“This could be due to younger consumers leading more ‘on-the-go’ lifestyles, where convenience is prioritised above reducing plastic waste, whereas older consumers have more time to plan and prepare their alternatives,” ​the report said.

Another environmentally-focused group were the Eco Believers, representing 19% of shoppers in Western Europe and 14% globally. These consumers considered plastic a “major concern” ​and took certain actions to reduce their environmental impact, although less consistently than Eco Actives.

Most global and Western European consumers, however, were Eco Considerers or Eco Dismissers, either taking “infrequent actions”​ to reduce plastic waste or showing “no steps to improve”​ actions at all. In Western Europe, Eco Considerers made up 23% of consumers and Eco Dismissers 37%.

However, Kantar Worldpanel said this was not a reason to abandon the environmental cause.

Personal care ‘important’ source of plastic waste

Natalie Babbage, global LinkQ director of the Worldpanel Division, told CosmeticsDesign-Europe the survey showed detergents and personal care products to be the “second-biggest source of plastic waste” ​for consumers in Western Europe.

Babbage said many consumers suggested they wanted to see less plastic packaging, more alternative materials and more use of 100% recycled plastics. Results showed that 51% of Western European shoppers were looking for environmentally packaged FMCG products and one-third were willing to pay more for products packaged in materials like glass or paper.

“I know there’s a lot of things going on in R&D, and industry should be confident in moving that forward to the market because the demand is there,” ​she said.

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