Recently, there has been a notable shift in consumer mindset from “What’s better for me?” to “What’s better for us?”
Today’s “mindful mindset” represents consumers’ focus on the bigger, broader picture and what’s best not only for a person, but also for their family, the community and the world. Customization and personalization still matter and appeal to consumers, but there is a growing and increasingly ingrained sense of responsibility when purchasing products, especially in regard to sourcing, sustainability, social accountability, health and wellness.
The mindful mindset: From ‘me’ to ‘we’
Consumers are increasingly holding businesses to new standards, expecting companies to look beyond what’s merely good for the bottom line and consider what’s good for employees, customers, communities and future generations.
This shift started with millennials and has become an industry priority—especially among the emerging Gen Z demographic. Gen Z, composed of people born between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s, is increasingly concerned with how businesses are run and how they incorporate the idea of mindfulness. A recent report from McKinsey noted that Gen Z consumers are “mostly well educated about brands and the realities behind them, […] and try to learn the origins of anything they buy.”
This “good for we” philosophy is gaining momentum with Gen Z around issues such as zero-waste initiatives, climate-positive efforts and fair labor practices. And these trends aren’t specific to Gen Z.
Such examples of mindfulness play out across the attitudes and behaviors among various age groups. In that same report, McKinsey found that 70% of respondents across generations “try to purchase products from companies they consider ethical.” And Technomic’s 2019 Value and Pricing Consumer Trend Report indicated that the definition of what constitutes value is also changing to include more aspects of quality and service.
The product development and merchandising approach: From ‘yours’ to ‘ours’
Those who make and sell products to consumers are thinking collectively, too, aligning with their customers and partners. Accordingly, product development and merchandising processes are increasingly collaborative with different and transformative partnerships between consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers and retailers. The connections between individual, consumer, purveyor and retailer are stronger today than even just a few years ago.
As a result, production processes around sourcing, product development, packaging, transportation, merchandising, storage and waste are being reevaluated to determine if these areas are meeting more collective standards.
A shifting mindset and a more comprehensive approach to products and processes are reflected in the strategy of one global company with a history of innovation in the CPG industry: Procter & Gamble (P&G). P&G describes this as being “a force for good and a force for growth.” While sustainability has been a priority for decades at P&G, the concept of doing what’s right has expanded in definition and implementation in recent years.
“Now more than ever, consumers expect brands to take action in solving some of the most complex challenges facing our world today,” said Virginie Helias, chief sustainability officer for P&G. “At P&G, we have a responsibility to be a force for good and a force for growth. We work hard to enable and inspire a positive impact on society and the environment. We do this by innovating across products and packaging, making responsible consumption irresistible and mainstream for the 5 billion consumers we serve each day.”
Making the connection: The eco-footprint within the retail footprint
Consumers want to do the right thing. They want interconnectedness and positive change, but they also seek more information about the products they use, eat and drink.
Retailers can help make this connection at the store level by educating shoppers and employees about sustainable products and usage, and offering information about the mutual commitment to doing the right thing for consumers, the world and the future. This can be done in a number of ways, including educational point-of-sale signage via social media or other forms of digital communication, sampling or tastings, or retailer educational classes that are focused on improving health, wellness and lifestyle. Store team members should be educated about the sustainability of products in the store in order to serve as on-site ambassadors for the retailer and its offerings.
Examples of actions taken
P&G has taken several “we”-minded actions with its partners as it works toward sustainability goals around climate, water and waste. After the company achieved its many of its 2020 environmental sustainability goals, it announced “Ambition 2030,” which also added new targets to align with consumer values as they relate to sustainability and social responsibilities. For example, P&G reached its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its facilities by 30% before 2020 and has since increased that goal to reducing emissions by 50% before 2030.
Looking forward, the company is transitioning to 100% recyclable or reusable packaging as part of its 2030 initiative, keeping with consumers’ burgeoning interest in more sustainable packaging solutions. Already, many P&G brands, including Pantene, Tide, Cascade and Crest™, have developed new durable and refillable packaging. Earlier this year, the company’s Herbal Essences brand, in partnership with TerraCycle, created recyclable shampoo and conditioner bottles made of 25% recycled beach plastic. P&G scientists and engineers are also testing new capabilities such as circular solutions for electric rechargeable and manual toothbrushes, as well as the recycling of used hygienic products.
Transformative partnerships are integral to these kinds of improvements. Earlier this year, P&G teamed up with Loop, a circular e-commerce platform developed by TerraCycle, which allows packaging to be collected, cleaned, refilled and reused. Loop collects used products from consumers’ doorsteps for reuse or further recycling. Eleven of the company’s brands will take part in the Loop platform, including Pantene, Tide, Cascade and Oral-B, among others.
The value of these kinds of partnerships is pivotal in providing consumers not only with products that meet their evolving values, but also with information to help them make decisions at the point of sale that align with their more mindful priorities. In parallel, P&G’s retail partners bring the “we” to life by underscoring the mutual commitment to doing the right thing for their consumers.