The responsible consumer tries to resist the hurricane of inflation

Bethlehem RodrigoMADRID Updated: 06/13/2022 03:51h
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Half of Spanish consumers take sustainability into account when making purchases, as shown by the results of the Sustainability and Consumption 2022 study prepared by the Cetelem Observatory. "There is still a long way to go in this regard, but Spaniards are clear that in the coming years we will have a much more responsible consumption model," says Liliana Marsan, who is in charge of this study and prospective unit at BNP Paribas Personal Finance. .

Twenty years ago in their reports they asked about issues related to sustainability and even then «we observed the beginning of a concern for the environment on the part of consumers, but it remained rather in theory and did not directly affect their consumption », acknowledges Marsans.

Ten years ago this trend began to be more noticeable in the purchasing behavior of Spaniards, «progressively accentuating in recent years. Undoubtedly, the pandemic has been a catalyst for many changes, for trends that have been growing and that, what we have experienced, have made it grow faster. Also the mentality of consumers has changed », he adds.

24% of Spaniards buy second-hand products at least once a month

But at a time of crisis, and with inflation so high, one wonders if this responsible consumption could be harmed, given that sustainable products tend to have a higher price. “We believe that it is a trend that can have ups and downs, but the line is going to be ascending, it is strong and consolidated. The price factor is important, but the consumer continues to ask for quality products, which is associated with sustainability," says Rosario Pedrosa, Manager of Commercial Strategy and Marketing at AECOC, the Association of Manufacturers and Distributors. She acknowledges that “quality and price go hand in hand and we cannot get lost. For a majority of consumers, the price is decisive in the purchase », she adds. She positively values ​​that companies are making investments to be more efficient and believes that in the long run the price of these products will go down.

growing competition

In addition, Pedrosa considers that “there is a lot of competition, and that makes prices self-regulate. Both manufacturers and distributors make an effort to offer the best value for money », he points out. Beyond the effect that inflation can have on our pockets, “leading a sustainable lifestyle is very important. In May our barometer showed that 50% of consumers take into account aspects related to sustainability.
61% buy local proximity products whenever they can,
which is closely related to a sustainable lifestyle”, explains Pedrosa.

From AECOC they also remember that there is a regulatory framework that leads us towards the path of sustainability and "it is a request from consumers". Pedrosa speaks of a more aware and responsible consumer, "but with a great lack of knowledge in terms of how to act to be more sustainable, so brands have a great opportunity to educate their products and services and thus position themselves as benchmarks in sustainability. The seal of guarantee of sustainable products is important for the consumer, since it gives him a guarantee. In the food category “we see that the consumer is more concerned about making a sustainable purchase. He buys products in bulk, from proximity and that have as little packaging as possible », explains the person in charge.

new reality

Another important change in behavior, which will not suffer from inflation, is that relating to the second-hand market. According to the head of the Cetelem Observatory, twenty years ago these purchases were associated with a consumption demanded only by those who could not buy a new product and opted for these at a lower price. “Today the reality is very different, first of all,
because second-hand purchases have spread to a wide variety of products that did not exist years ago,
and, secondly, because now they are considered as smart and sustainable purchases not intended for a single target of the population, but have become generalized, "he clarifies. In fact, the stores in this sector have increased.

95% of Spaniards would be willing to take measures to contribute against climate change and the problems that derive from it

Patricia San Miguel, professor of Consumer Behavior at the ISEM Fashion Business School of the University of Navarra, reflects on the reasons that are causing consumer change, what influences their decisions. “At the government level, there has been a commitment to caring for the planet for a long time, but it was not in public opinion.” She believes that the collapse of the building known as Rana Plaza in Bangladesh allowed public opinion to know what was happening: "Fashion can be polluting." «In recent years we have seen in videos the impact of what is happening on the planet and we know that it must be taken seriously. Little by little, awareness of a healthy life is created and everything influences the consumer at a global level », she clarifies. Hence the terms 'slow life' and 'slow fashion' have emerged.

San Miguel believes that it has managed to change people's motivation and that a change in attitude is taking place, first among the most educated consumers. Liliana Marsán, for her part, believes that the aforementioned evolution will continue to be positive, taking into account the data obtained in the studies of recent years.

The energy transition is also a topic that worries Spaniards a lot and that is reflected in their purchasing behavior. "The average expenditure made in the contracting of improvements for the sustainability of the home amounted to 2,500 euros, which represents a growth of 12% compared to the previous year," Marsans stresses. Most Spaniards have LED lighting systems, efficient appliances and even thermal insulation systems installed in their homes. "But the most remarkable thing is that 24% intend to install solar panels for photovoltaic self-consumption in the next 12 months," says Marsans. Despite a historic inflationary rush, conscientious consumption continues to illuminate the future.

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