The conscious shopper
Consumer Insights: Social awareness moves up shopper agenda
Jun 5, 2023

Australian shoppers are increasingly motivated to support retail brands based on their social, environmental and ethical credentials, according to the third major survey in QIC’s six-part Consumer Insights series in partnership with McCrindle Research.


Headlining the findings is the statistic that more than 60 per cent of QIC shoppers have become more aware of the impacts of their purchasing decisions than they were 12 months ago. Melissa Schulz, QIC Real Estate General Manager – Sustainability, commented: “We’ve seen this [conscious consumption] trend accelerate over the last few years and it’s showing no signs of slowing down as consumers use their dollar to vote for the type of world they want to live in.”

Over half of QIC shoppers surveyed said they exclusively support brands that are transparent about their environmental impact and supply chain information. Over two thirds claimed to be more drawn to shop at stores that communicate the origins of their products.

Retailers should therefore expect customers to be more alert to attempts at greenwashing, more accustomed to label-reading, and more willing to spend big on brands that are radically transparent in their social and environmental performance claims.

Research principal Mark McCrindle explained: “We’ve consumers now that are reading the labels, they’re getting on the apps, they’re wanting to understand supply chains before they make their purchases, so that their dollar creates virtuous outcomes.” He continued: “For many it’s now an absolute; little over half of all consumers said they will exclusively buy from organisations or brands that are transparent.”

Ready to recycle more

Among the survey findings was the importance of recycling and reuse, with over three quarters of respondents claiming to recycle a product after use and citing a preference for reusable shopping bags.

QIC retail partners such as Mecca, Cotton On and Coles have lead the charge in implementing sustainable resourcing programs and easy-to-recycle product packaging. For SMEs and independent retailers, simple in-store recycling initiatives are bound to make all the difference, with 54 per cent of QIC customers more likely to support stores with these systems in place.

Schulz added: “Retailers have a critical role to play in this trend, and we have an opportunity to be agents for positive change.”

Local advantage

Some 71 per cent of QIC shoppers said they choose to reduce their environmental footprint by supporting local businesses. Though price remains a significant factor in purchasing behaviour across all income brackets, the study results indicate that locally sourced goods and stores located close to home will be prioritised by shoppers for the foreseeable future.

McCrindle explained: “We’ve found that more than half of consumers want to buy local so they’re wanting to support businesses in their area; this is not just about environmental sustainability [but] also about social sustainability.”

For more takeaways, watch Mark McCrindle summarise the findings with QIC’s Melissa Schulz below.

Download our PDF summary of conscious consumption trends and stay tuned for more from QIC's six-part Consumer Insights series designed to help retail partners anticipate and respond to shifts in shopper needs, beliefs and behaviours.