Iceland's plastic removal may entice new shoppers

Richard MollerDirector Custom Research
January 19, 2018, 6:00 AM GMT+0

Recently, supermarket chain Iceland hit the headlines for pledging to remove plastic packaging from its own brand products, whilst calling on suppliers and rivals to join them.

At around the same time, the German retailer Lidl was criticised for selling onions, without their natural skin, in plastic packaging.

YouGov Profiles allows us to see how important the issues of sustainability are to people thinking of shopping at Iceland and Lidl.

Looking at those that would consider shopping with Iceland, almost six in ten (59%) say that ‘the plastic bag charge is exactly the sort of thing that the government should be doing – taking action to save the environment in small and simple ways’. Among those who would consider Lidl, this rises to two thirds (66%).

However, around a third (35%) of people thinking about buying from Iceland believe that ‘it [it being the plastic bag charge] is irritating bossing around by the government – a distraction from the issues that deserve attention’. This view is shared by just a fifth (21%) of those who’d contemplate shopping at Lidl.

Added to this, when reflecting on a hypothetical ban on plastic cutlery, eight in ten (80%) potential Iceland customers support the initiative, with just 6% opposing it. Looking at Lidl, the numbers are even greater (87% vs. 5%).

However, one note of caution is that Iceland’s potential customers are less likely than the average to say they only buy products from companies that have ethics and values that they agree with (26% versus 34% of the public). A similar divergence is seen among Lidl’s potential new customers (28% versus 34%).

In the past, Lidl has been commended for its stance on its staff pay structure. YouGov brand tracking data has indicated an upturn in the supermarket’s Impression score (whether someone has a positive impression of the brand) following headlines linked to its policy to pay above the Living Wage.

However, while it is doubtful that the “naked onions” controversy will have much impact on the brand, it will be keen to re-assert itself as a company that has an identity that is distinguishable from its higher-profile and larger rivals.

Iceland on the other hand, will be hoping that the move begins to shift opinion and perception of what the brand stands for, and possibly persuade those who have never shopped there to give it a try.

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This article originally appeared in Communicate Magazine

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