Magazine: Pandemic puts pressure on sustainability efforts

By: Tisza Andrea Date: 2020. 09. 10. 06:56
Seres Attila_nms

Attila Seres
client service manager
NMS Hungary

Sustainability and environmental protection matter to more and more consumers, but how did the COVID-19 pandemic affect this trend? We compared the results of an online survey conducted in the Hungarian National Panel with 800 respondents in July 2020 with a similar study made one year earlier. Last year’s study revealed that the majority of people want convenience: those eco-friendly solutions became widely used that require no great effort or lifestyle change. In most households environmental protection means selective waste collection and using their own shopping bags; few people are willing to stop buying their favourite products, to put a green or packaging-free product in the shopping basket instead.

The pandemic’s influence on shopping habits

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the shopping habits of consumers very much. Shoppers spent less time in stores, more customers wrote a shopping list in advance and shopping frequency dropped from 3-4 to 1 occasion per week. More shoppers opted for packaged products, due to their longer shelf life and guaranteed cleanliness. Many retailers reacted to this trend by offering formerly packaging-free products in plastic packaging, e.g. bakery items, fruits. In comparison with 2019, this year 10 percent fewer respondents said a green product packaging is very important for them. At the same time 10 percent more consumers (39 percent in total) said an eco-friendly packaging matters less in their buying decisions.

Price vs. packaging

Many consumers felt that they have no choice during the pandemic: although before the pandemic they had focused on generating less waste, now they felt they had to protect themselves by purchasing more packaged groceries – 21 percent of the survey’s participants said they bought packaged products during the pandemic that they used to buy without packaging before. The role of prices and promotions is becoming more important in buying decisions, as according to a survey conducted in May, 61 percent of consumers saw their income decrease because of the COVID-19 pandemic. What is more, some of those consumers also started economising whose income hasn’t changed – they want to have more savings if the pandemic strikes again. //

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