New GIK report on “The Sustainables”

The current Sustainability Report of the GIK deals with the role of sustainability - in life and in the advertising industry in Germany. Based on studies by GIK (Gesellschaft für integrierte Kommunikationsforschung*), the report documents developments around the issues of environment, responsibility, fairness and organic awareness and shows how these impact the brand positioning and advertising creation.

At the latest since 2019, with the "Fridays for Future" movement, the topics of climate change and sustainability have arrived among the general population. The recent scandals surrounding conditions in meat processing plants in the wake of the Corona pandemic have further sensitized consumers and the business community. Sustainability is also "talk of the town" in the marketing industry. That's why the latest GIK Report takes a detailed look at developments surrounding the trends "attitude," "organic," "meatless food" and "environment.

Attitude beats status

The “Best4planning” (b4p) studies of GIK have been investigating aspects of sustainability and attitude in the population for many years. A long-term comparison clearly shows that statements on social and responsible personal commitment are clearly gaining in importance, e.g. the target group of LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability) has expanded by 27% since 2013. When it comes to purchasing, product quality (92.9%) and an attractive price (89.6%) are still the most important factors for consumers. However, a brand's trustworthiness (87.1%) and credibility (85.6%) come into play immediately afterwards, followed by concrete aspects in production conditions. In the event of a lack of attitude, brands are threatened by around two-thirds of consumers with loss of prestige or even boycotts.

Growing e-mobility

The current discussion about climate change and the environmental crisis is also reflected in the results of the b4p. The proportion of people who are rather or very pessimistic about the development of the environmental situation in the next two to five years is rising continuously: currently 44% of the population belong to this group - the proportion has thus increased by almost 20% since 2018. Conversely, the proportion of people who are rather or very optimistic about the environmental situation is continuing to decline, with only 17.5% of Germans still taking this view.

Interest in environmental issues has risen accordingly over the past four years - both in terms of the subjective importance of a healthy environment (+14%) and in relation to specific aspects such as sustainable energy generation (+32%). This correlates with the increased expectation of the information function of magazines about environment and nature (+11%).

Increasing environmental awareness is also influencing attitudes toward automotive topics: All vehicles with electric motors have enjoyed an increasing popularity in recent years. In the meantime, 22 million Germans (31% of the total population) can already imagine buying an electric car - this result is shown in b4p 2020, i.e. already at a time when the current purchase premium of the German government did not yet exist. The spread and demand for e-bikes and pedelecs has more than doubled since 2017 - currently 5.2 million Germans own an electric-powered bicycle.

Demand for organic and natural products on the rise

A clear upward trend is also emerging in the market for organic and natural products in the wake of the sustainability wave. Looking back at 2016, for example, the use of natural cosmetics is up 41%. And 42% of the population now say they look for a test, quality or organic seal when buying food. Almost one-third of the population (31%) specifically purchased natural and organic products in 2020.

Organic vegetables and organic eggs are the top sellers among organic products; almost 50% of the population say they buy these organic products. These are followed by other animal products such as meat, dairy products, cheese and sausages. Organic bakery products show the highest growth with 36% compared to 2013. Organic breakfast cereals and organic ready-to-eat products are growing at a similar pace.

More and more people are professing to be flexitarians, vegetarians or even vegans. Thus, there are now a total of 5.67 million people who state that they (radically) limit their meat consumption. Albeit on a low basis, more and more people have become committed to a vegan lifestyle in recent years. Completely salonfähig is in the meantime the "part-time vegetarianism". The Flexitarier community grows clearly: Up-to-date 17.33 million humans indicate that they replace again and again consciously Tierisches by Pflanzliches.

“The sustainables” can be reached well via print

The target groups for sustainable products are primarily among the well-off educated elite and thus among the classic print readership: 34% of the "sustainable" are among the print intensive users. This corresponds to an index of 138 compared to the total population. Especially with regard to vegan products and e-scooters, the target group is very young.

At the same time, "the sustainables" are not fundamentalists, but an ambivalent connoisseur target group, with high brand and quality awareness.

The b4t results show that the "sustainable" motifs of retail companies perform better across all advertising impact indicators than the average of retail motifs in the comparison period, presumably because sustainability motifs hit the nerve of the times particularly well. The sustainable creations score particularly well in terms of likeability, appeal and informativeness. Particularly surprising: the activation performance of the sustainable motifs is also higher than the average of the (partly sales-oriented) retail motifs: 42.8% versus 38.2%.

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*About GIK
The five media companies Axel Springer, Bauer Media Group, Funke Mediengruppe, Gruner + Jahr and Hubert Burda Media have joined forces under the umbrella of the Gesellschaft für integrierte Kommunikationsforschung (GIK). They jointly operate the cross-media market media studies best for planning (b4p) and best for tracking (b4t) to provide customers and market partners with data for their advertising planning and to evaluate the use of advertising media.