News
8 min read

Sustainability and Brewing: What Do Consumers Think?

Consumers increasingly want to choose sustainable products, but they don't know how to identify a sustainable brand. Breweries have an opportunity to win climate-conscious consumers.
Written by
George Wade
Published on
January 22, 2024

As part of a sustainability research project with the University of Exeter and Phoebe Sanderson, Zevero has looked to understand how sustainability influences consumers’ purchasing decisions and what they look for when buying a sustainable beer.

With over 250 people surveyed, the goal for the next stage of this project is for breweries to understand how they can effectively communicate their commitment to tackling climate change and use this as a way to engage their customers.

Download the report.

Key Takeaways

🌍 75% of respondents sometimes choose the sustainable option - Sustainability is important to consumers.

🎨  55% of customers can't tell if a beer is sustainable - Branding and marketing are not currently effective at communicating why and how a beer is more sustainable.

💰 Consumers are willing to pay £0.10 to £2 more for sustainable options - Price & quality are still the primary decision-making factors.

🍺 Reporting sustainability clearly and through interesting formats is important to consumers. Consumers are quick to know if a company is really taking action or just greenwashing. Consumers also want more engaging ways to know if a beer is sustainable, a website page will no longer cut it.

The important message coming out of the survey is clear. Consumers are willing to choose sustainable options, but they don’t know what they look like. That’s not surprising.

It’s a complex subject and many examples of greenwashing have, rightfully so, caused a large amount of distrust towards brands calling themselves vague terms such as ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘good for the environment’. So now the consumer needs brands to communicate sustainability clearly, honestly & transparently.

Let’s look how how they can do that.

✅ How to communicate your sustainability
  1. Use labelling, packaging and POS to show your credentials. Consumers are more likely to engage with your product, either in a pub, bar or supermarket than they are on your website. Find a way to tell your brand’s story on your packaging.
  2. Display your carbon footprint. Data matters, and being able to show your entire climate impact is crucial to transparency, especially when it is independently verified.  It also serves as a powerful tool for demonstrating ongoing improvements, allowing regular customers to witness a continuous decrease in impact.
  3. Achieve a certification. Consumers place trust in awards as an independent verification of a commitment to sustainability. Placing it on a label makes it accessible to the consumer. B-Corp stands out as a prime illustration of a certification scheme that resonates with customers
  4. Annual Reporting. For the average consumer making on-the-spot purchasing decisions, sustainability information must be readily available on the product (can/bottle/keg/menu). Equally, it's essential to position the brand itself as a leader in sustainability. An effective approach is through annual reporting, showing progress and highlighting the challenges in the journey to net zero. We’ve put together our favourite impact reports here.
🛑 How not to communicate sustainability
  1. Sustainability can’t command a higher price. The survey shows that sustainability shouldn’t be used to leverage a higher price, instead, it should be used to increase the volume of the products you sell. And this makes sense, the responsibility of sustainability is not on the consumer, it’s the responsibility of the business. Small price increases are justifiable, but consumers will still look at price and quality as their top metrics.
  2. Don’t be vague. Saying you’re ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘good for the environment’ is not enough anymore, in fact, it’s becoming illegal under the Green Claims Code. However, you don’t need to ‘greenhush’ it is nothing to fear if you are measuring and reducing your impact on the environment. You should still make sure everybody knows you are taking climate action, but only if you’re doing it accurately and transparently.
  3. Making claims without data. Businesses frequently resort to vagueness because they lack concrete data to support their claims. Moreover, making specific statements without data-backed evidence is equally invalid. Therefore, the initial step towards clear, honest, and transparent communication involves going through the process of calculating your emissions and getting a baseline.

What does high-quality data look like?

  1. Be accurate and up-to-date.
  2. Provide relevant and actionable insights.
  3. Ensure transparency and accessibility.
What are the next steps
  1. Measure your emissions. Speak to brewery industry carbon accountant experts who have already helped DEYA, Gipsy Hill & Tiny Rebel accurately measure their carbon emissions. (insert link)
  2. Get support on how to communicate the data. Included in working with Zevero is dedicated and personalised support for turning your data into clear, honest and transparent communication
  3. Enter sustainability awards. SIBA have sustainability award categories in their annual awards and they could be a great way to highlight your achievements.
  4. Continue making progress and understand that it’s not always easy, but is needed.
To download the report, click here.

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