The Akatu Institute launched on July 25th “The Akatu’s 2018 Survey – Conscious consumption Brazilian background: challenges, barriers and drivers”.
The survey goal was to evaluate consumers’ the consciousness of consumers in their consumption behaviors, their perceptions and expectations regarding sustainability practices of companies and corporate social responsibility, as well as assess, quantitatively, the results of Akatu’s qualitative survey (2015) “Barriers and Drivers for Consumer’s Sustainable Behaviors”.
To develop the survey, which is in its 5th edition, 1,090 people, men and women, over 16, from all social classes and from 12 capitals and/or metropolitan regions all over the country were interviewed, between March 9th and April 2nd 2018. The survey was supported by UN Environment, Coca-Cola Brazil, Grupo Boticário, Natura, Cargill and Unilever.
Based on the Conscious Consumption Test (CCT), which was defined after the first survey developed by Akatu and which involves 13 behaviors, the survey analyzed how some behaviors are part of the routine of the interviewees, as well as their shopping habits.
The level of consciousness of Brazilian consumers is segmented into the following profiles: “indifferent”, “beginner”, “engaged” and “conscious”, according to the adherence to the 13 behaviors evaluated, being considered “indifferent” those who adhered to up to 4 behaviors, “beginners” from 5 to 7, “engaged” from 8 to 10 and “conscious” from 11 to 13.
One of the main results of the Akatu’s 2018 survey was the significant growth of the “beginner” consumer segment, from 32% in 2012 to 38% in 2018, which demonstrates that now is a time to recruit “indifferent” consumers so they can become “beginners” in their consciousness in consumption.
The survey indicates that 76% of the consumers are among the least conscious consumers (“indifferent” and “beginner”) regarding their consciousness in consumption. The highest level of consciousness is influenced by age, social and educational qualification: amongst the more conscious, 24% are over 65, 52% belong to A/B class and 40% have higher education.
Conscious Consumption Behaviors
By expanding the number of behaviors from 13 to 19, the Akatu’s 2018 Survey evaluated whether there were changes regarding the adherence to conscious consumption behaviors. Although the larger number of behaviors did not modify the results, it allowed an initial gathering of behaviors as those that represent consumption at home (of personal savings), which are the most adhered. At eh next step, the adherence to planned shopping behaviors is reduced, followed by behaviors beyond the home, then the consciousness inside the net (in the community) and, finally, the consciousness in public.
In 2018, there was a small decrease on the adherence to a few behaviors, except the one of garbage separation for recycling, which remained stable, and those of sustainable shopping (purchase of products made with recycled material and purchase of organic products) which strongly increased.
In the path of consumerism or sustainability?
During the interviews, 10 themes were presented to the respondents so they could evaluate the preference for the consumerism or sustainability paths. The good news is that the ranking showed a preference for the sustainability path instead of the consumerism one. Amongst the 10 greatest desires, 7 follow the sustainability path and only 3 follow the consumerism one.
The leading desire is that for a healthy lifestyle, with healthy, fresh and nutritious food. However, the desire of owning a car, predominant in the lower social classes (CDE) – the ones who suffer the most with public transportation, with a worsening relation between cost and comfort – is the biggest barrier to the absolute leadership in the sustainability path.
Barriers and drivers for conscious consumption
And what, according to consumers’ perceptions, would be barriers to the adoption of sustainable practices and shopping?
In this assessment, although 68% declared they have already heard about sustainability, the majority (61%) has no repertoire on what is a sustainable product. Almost two-thirds of the respondents could not mention a situation in which they had to choose between a sustainable product and an unsustainable product.
Amongst the 39% which has some repertoire about sustainable products, the main barrier for choosing them is cost, they being considered expensive to 25% of respondents.
Overall, four barriers to the consumption of sustainable products were identified: effort needed, distrust, need for physical structure and deprivation of small pleasures. Amongst them, the “effort needed” was cited as very important by 60% of respondents – whereas the high cost perception is the main obstacle within this category.
In the analysis of the drivers for the adoption of sustainable practices and shopping, however, those that refer to the impact in the world, society and future seem to have more appeal compared to those that benefit the person itself, since 70% feel very motivated by emotional drivers, while 45% feel very motivated by concrete benefits.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Consumers value, according to the survey, those companies that care about people, involving employees, disabled people and the community. Amongst the eight main causes that most motivate consumers to buy a product of a particular brand, five are directed linked to the people care: fighting against child labor; treating employees the same way regardless ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation; investing in programs of disabled recruitment; contributing to the community’s well-being; and offering good working conditions.
On the other hand, when asked generically about the companies’ role, the survey revealed that 56% expect companies to do more than what is in the law and to look more for society – which is very aligned to the desire of caring for people.
The survey’s results, therefore, reveal the desire of Brazilian consumers for the sustainability path, but show that those actions still “don’t get there” on a large scale. Helio Mattar, Akatu’s president and CEO, highlights the companies’ role and how they can activate this desire: “Companies that take care of people, both inside and out, are more respected, according to the survey, which also points to an intense desire for a healthy lifestyle. Another important point is the companies’ reliability. In times of fake news, the consistency of companies’ actions and being a credible source of information are key to consumers trust regarding what companies claim about sustainability”, says Mattar.