The era of the conscious consumer and responsible consumption
Well into the 21st century, we are witnesses to a new revolution led by consumers. The pandemic has given impetus to this revolution, and the concern consumers share about the condition of their environment and the health of the planet they share is evident. We’re entering the era of the conscious consumer, where people consider sustainable, environmental and social aspects in their purchasing decisions.
Our concern for our impact on the planet is becoming more and more pervasive. We’ve all come to the conclusion that our consumption habits make a big impact and this in turn makes us more careful when making consumption decisions. We are a responsible and empowered public that has all the information it needs to make its own decisions and seek out the most ethical alternatives.
At MAPFRE, we focus our efforts on playing our part. We know that change is possible, and we want to be part of it, with demanding and unequivocal commitments to social and environmental issues, with services and products aligned with our commitments, and corporate governance that allows us to continue making responsible progress in the right direction. Our Sustainability Plan 2022-2024 focuses on the global challenges we can take on through our business.
The search for more sustainable purchases
According to one of the latest OCU studies, carried out by the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU), in collaboration with the New Economy and Social Innovation Forum, 73% of Spaniards currently takes ethical and ecological issues into consideration when making purchasing decisions.
Despite the fact that factors such as lack of information (60%), price (58%), accessibility (54%), or even difficulty finding responsible companies (52%) complicate this task for the responsible consumer, the study also highlights that 6 in 10 people consider the way they buy to be a very powerful tool, and believe our buying decisions can change the world.
We see an example of this in how food trends have evolved: healthier, more local, organic, and sustainable products are now in great demand, which shows that people are more aware of the information that can be found on food labels, as they become more interested in learning about ingredients and production and logistical characteristics related to what they buy.
Beyond traditional retail and product manufacturing and logistics, service companies also need to rethink the way they understand business and governance, as well as their relationship with the customer.
Consumers believe that the success of brands will depend on how they relate to them, often outside of the traditional and physical experience in the store. It’ll also depend on how capable brands are of adapting to ever more ambitious environmental, social, and good governance (ESG) criteria, according to the international KPMG study on customer experience. Brand values and their integrity and ethics gain ground over the mere product or service when it comes to purchasing decisions.
At MAPFRE, we’ve spent more than 85 years making good on our deep commitment to people and the planet, and we use ESG criteria to build a more sustainable future.
The emergence of new sharing economy tools
Many initiatives have sprung forth from the search for sustainable and responsible consumption, normally connected to the circular economy or to new technologies, such as mobile apps that help us with everyday activities like going to the supermarket or moving around the city more sustainably.
A great example of these initiatives is the range of mobile apps that combat food waste, such as Too Good to Go, which uses the hashtag #dontthrowawayfood, and which allows supermarkets, produce markets, and bakeries, among other establishments, to sell the leftover food not sold at the end of the day to avoid throwing it in the trash. This application enables users to not only save this food from being discarded, but to buy it at reduced prices, thereby protecting the environment.
Other sharing economy projects are carpooling companies, such as BlaBlaCar, which allow people taking a trip to do so sharing a vehicle and travel expenses, helping to reduce CO2, the number of vehicles on the road, and the overall environmental impact of their travels.
When it comes to the circular economy in the world of fashion, applications to buy second-hand products, such as Wallapop or Vinted, are transforming the way we think about disposability and promoting sustainability by extending the useful life of all manner of goods. Within the second-hand sector, Vinted is leading the way for fashion. Currently, there are more than five million Spanish users registered and 65 million worldwide, spread across 17 countries.
Organizations also contribute to conscious choices
This new trend toward responsible and sustainable consumption shows how we’ve made our concern for caring for ourselves, for natural resources, and for our planet in general part of our purchasing decisions in recent years. It’s something that had already kicked off before 2020, but it undoubtedly gained strength on the back of the outbreak of the pandemic and growing concern about the effects of climate change around the world. That’s why it’s important to recognize that consumers are becoming more and more aware of the long-term impact their choices may have.
We can also see how the majority of organizations strive to follow this trend and incorporate sustainability across the board in their decisions, implementing policies and procedures that are more respectful of the environment, society, and their surroundings. The picture is clear: sustainability is today’s challenge for a better tomorrow.
At MAPFRE, we want to lead the call to action to achieve a fairer and more equitable future for everyone; sustainability must be perfectly integrated into the company’s strategy and in the decision-making of all our areas. It’s the only way to generate change and value, beyond purely economic benefits. In our case, we have a model in place that puts people at the center of everything we do, and that establishes indicators that show us where we are, and where we want to head.