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Convergence of environment and health is a growing consumer trend

04 November 2019

Tetra Pak recently revealed the findings from a global research study, in partnership with Ipsos, the environment and health. 

Historically two areas which have been seen and communicated as separate areas: however they are increasingly converging, creating pivotal opportunities for food and beverage (F&B) brands in how they market their products over the next 12 months, according to Tetra Pak.

With two-thirds of consumers now believing we are reaching an environmental tipping point, consumers see themselves as being directly responsible for the world around them, and for their own health. With environmental issues becoming more evident in daily life, concerns about the impact on consumer health is also growing. Nearly 60% of consumers now believe that their health and well-being are strongly affected by environmental problems. 

As one of the only industries that can connect the environment at a personal level to the individual, by also talking about health, F&B  brands have an opportunity to drive change through the way they communicate with consumers on these topics.

The more concerned about the environment consumers become, the more health-conscious they become too. Mental health is now considered equal to physical health: 67% of consumers agree that it is a major concern for society, with stress considered the most concerning from a personal perspective.

The Tetra Pak Index 2019 reveals six new segments of consumers, each with their own attitudes around both health and the environment. Each group presents clear opportunities for targeted products and messaging for F&B brands, in embracing the convergence of these topics:

Active ambassadors: high engagement in all aspects of health and environment, willing to take action, challenge boundaries and influence others.  They look to fact-based sources such as scientists and academics, as well as NGOs for advice on the environment. 

Planet friends: willing to take action about the environment with  high engagement on most aspects of health, but less inclined to challenge boundaries. Engaged and willing to take action about the environment. High engagement also on most aspects of health, especially for peace of mind. 

Health conscious: aware and engaged about the environment, but prioritise health over the planet. Prepared to pay more and sacrifice convenience for healthy products and depend heavily on social media and other online sources.

Followers: engaged enough with health and environmental issues to feel guilty about both, but not inclined to change behaviour or try new things. This sizeable mainstream cohort wants to know more and be persuaded and energised to act. Look to TV/radio more than the average. 

Laggards: lack of knowledge and interest in all aspects of health and the environment. Sceptical about technology and change. They look to their own personal, real world networks, particularly towards friends and family.

Sceptics: Aware of environmental issues, but inclined to decline them as “fake news”; “traditional” views on food and health. One-in-five sceptics say they don’t take advice on the environment from any media channel.

Market differences
While the intersection of personal and planet health is generally on the rise globally, the level of maturity varies between countries. 

For the UK, it is younger consumers in particular who are connecting food, health and the environment, with many seeking to explore different diets: flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan. Consequently there are many Planet friends here (+14%). 

Individual responsibility is rising
Environment is the number one global concern, and urgency is growing. Consumers are therefore making more informed choices over packaging, they are looking for environmental information in labelling and are purchasing environmentally-sound products even if they cost more. Food and beverage is a key catalyst here. The number one change ambition for both health and environmental reasons is greater consumption of environmentally-sound food and beverage products. Consumers now overwhelmingly see themselves as being the most responsible for both the environment and their own health, with little difference between the two (71% and 74% respectively), followed by government and politicians, while brands and retailers feature much lower down. Packaging and recyclability specifically are critical. 

Gisele Gurgel, director businessi and analytics at Tetra Pak, said: “Food and beverage is perhaps the first industry to see the emerging trend for convergence of health and environment. It provides a new opportunity for brands to make a powerful, purposeful and personal connection with consumers by addressing and communicating both at the same time.

“Many consumers are eager to read and learn more about the environment, including package-related topics (39%) particularly via social networks. In particular, the sweet spot is natural/organic products; no additives, and seasonal also rate highly in this regard. In terms of categories, 100% fruit juice, white milk, packaged water, coconut water and plant-based drinks are the most compelling.”


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