New research from digital and data experts TWC, in collaboration with the Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA), has revealed that Scottish consumers feel particularly strongly that retailers that don’t back sustainability will lose out.

The research will be further analysed and shared in a breakfast briefing webinar – ‘Sustainability and the Scottish Consumer’ – hosted by SWA and presented by Sarah Coleman, Director of Communications at TWC, on Tuesday 13 September, 9:00-9:30am. Registration can be made here:

The TWC Trends research was conducted in June 2022 and showed that 63% of Scottish consumers agreed that retailers who don’t take sustainability or environmental issues seriously are likely to lose out in the future. This was higher than the figure for the total UK, at 54%.

Interestingly, 27% of Scottish consumers agreed that environmental and sustainability issues are influencing where they shop for groceries – but this represents a significant drop vs. TWC Trends Autumn 2021, at which time 38% of Scots agreed.

It appears that there is a high expectation that irrespective of their own actions, consumers expect businesses to be focused on sustainability – with 63% of Scottish consumers agreeing that all companies should be focussed on their environmental impact.

The bottom line, particularly during the current cost-of-living crisis, is that many consumers are unwilling – or unable – to pay extra for sustainability benefits. Half of the consumers surveyed agreed that they want to make sustainable choices, but they are not willing to pay extra for this benefit.

Interestingly, consumers aged 55+ and those without children were most likely to agree to this statement and yet the research also highlighted these groups as the least likely to be struggling financially at the current time. This could suggest that it’s not just about being able to afford to pay a premium, but that some consumers are simply unwilling to pay more for this benefit, putting a greater onus on businesses to absorb any additional costs.

Colin Smith, Chief Executive, SWA, said:

“The research is very interesting as it clearly shows consumers are ever more conscious that change is required and businesses need to be more sustainable. However, if consumers are unwilling to pay for such investment, what does this mean for retailers and the wholesalers that supply them? Our breakfast briefing will look at this and discuss who will ultimately end up paying?”

The TWC Trends Summer Edition 2022 series is based on the views and sentiments of over 1,000 consumers across the UK, plus a boosted sample for Scotland of 400 consumers. The research was conducted 14-18 June 2022.