In recent years, consumers have shown a growing awareness of environmental issues, made explicit by a strong demand for low-impact, ecological and organic products, which increasingly enter the shopping trolley of Italians. Large retail chains have had to organise themselves to meet this demand.
“Today, labelling a product as green can mean many things.” – says Diego Toscani, CEO of Promotica – “Organic, zero km, sustainable from the point of view of the energy resources used to produce it, marketed with eco-friendly, cruelty free packaging, and so on. A set of products that, according to data from the Imagine Nielsen 2019 Observatory, represents over 18% of the total number of products on supermarket shelves. A huge slice of the market, worth a good 7 billion euros. Demand is therefore very high – the growth of products with ecological claims in 2019 was 3.4% compared to the previous year – and retail players are working hard to meet it. For any shop, from large retailers to proximity to local shops, the road to success cannot be separated from the inclusion in its market strategy of a focus on sustainability, which is increasingly appreciated by consumers”.
“There are many virtuous examples in Italy and abroad. Just think that two years ago in Amsterdam the first “plastic-free” supermarket chain was inaugurated, where most products are packaged in sustainable packaging. In Italy, all the major brands have increased their range of green products, offering affordable organic lines and favouring sustainable packaging or eliminating plastic packaging altogether when possible. But more needs to be done, also considering that Italy ranks first in Europe in terms of circular production index and second in terms of organic farmland”.
To be a green supermarket, it is not enough to sell eco-friendly products, it becomes necessary on the one hand to invest in communication and marketing to convey the values linked to sustainability, as well as to promote greater territoriality, with an offer of local products able to exploit the renewed preference for Made in Italy resulting from the Covid-19 emergency. A further challenge is knowing how to combine affordable prices and quality, without overpricing green products. According to a survey conducted by Supermercato24 two out of three consumers are not willing to spend more on a sustainable shopping cart, especially in hard economic times. The large-scale retail trade must therefore take action to overcome these difficulties and direct consumers towards more informed purchasing methods, finding in the loyalty sector an excellent ally for achieving these objectives.
Over the last 2/3 years Promotica has promoted issues related to sustainability, ecology and no-waste, creating various campaigns, dedicated brands (7milamiglialontano), competitions and catalogues with products that focus on the need to protect and care for the planet and the environment. The initiatives in the loyalty field are increasingly specialising in “green oriented” formulas, in a virtuous tandem with large-scale distribution. “It is positive and stimulating” – says Toscani – “to be able to design catalogues exclusively online, i.e. without printing communication materials (BeAPPY by Coop Centro Italia), or where most of the prizes are eco-friendly (Coop Alleanza), as well as to organise ecological competitions (La Natura ti premia ti premia, Unicoop Firenze) able to inform and stimulate reflection and changes in habits“.