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Some 77% of consumers in India are prepared to invest time and money in companies that try to do good, as per a just-launched Kantar research.

The findings are part of Kantar’s ‘Asia Sustainability Foundational’ study that seeks to understand the concerns and priorities around what sustainability means to Indian consumers and how brand marketers can find levers to unlock behaviour change around these trends. 

Key findings 

  • Even though the top five sustainability concerns of Indian consumers include: water pollution, poverty and hunger, deforestation, lack of access to healthcare and air pollution, these concerns fluctuate depending on the category in question. This also means that brands developing their sustainability strategy need to keep this variation in mind, to focus their efforts.
  • Like any developing country, while the awareness and acceptance of sustainability issues are growing fast, the intent is not always translating into action. Some 84% of consumers still prioritize saving money over saving the planet when it comes to their real-world actions, as per the findings.
  • Even though most Indians express willingness to spend time and money to support companies that do good, there is a significant value-action gap, which makes the job of marketers that much more complex. For example, in spite of a high level of awareness 65% of consumers report that they throw recyclable waste in the trash or dustbin.

What it means to brand marketers 

  • Speaking to The Drum exclusively, Paru Minocha, managing director, South Asia, Insights Division, Kantar shares, “brands need to give consumers a compelling reason to buy even as fundamental marketing principles continue to apply.”
  • Sustainability in isolation will not unlock consumer behaviour change and brands need to handhold and nudge the consumers along this behaviour change, she points out.
  • Emerging trends reaffirm that consumers are looking for brands that have social and environmental purposes and thus brand marketers need to remember that purpose is imperative. However, it needs to be a nuanced approach. For example, consumers expect food brands to avoid over packaging and to discourage wastage and to gain a competitive advantage in this category, brands need a credible back story around the ‘farm to fork’ journey of their products.
  • Alongside they also need to demonstrate steps being taken to minimise the impacts of intensive farming such as over-use of pesticides.
  • Adds Minocha, who is also the head of sustainable transformation practice at Kantar India, “brands need to remember that consumer expectations and concerns around sustainability are discrete and differ by categories. Therefore, brands need to recognize where to play - which plank or concern to own and drive.” 
  • In addition, brands need to be careful and understand that some are hygiene factors, and they may not win big if they offer them, but might lose if they don’t, says Minocha. 
  • The key would be to take a local approach to sustainability issues – so while a company purpose could be a global constant, translating that into action needs to take into consideration the local nuances that exist in each market.