lunedì 5 ottobre 2009

The Italian consumer? Very environmentally conscious - word of Eurobarometer

The 2009 Eurobarometer depicts a very environmentally conscious Italian consumer. According to the recent report ‘Europeans’ attitudes towards the issue of sustainable consumption and production’, to 54% of Italians (3rd in Europe and well over the EU average of 34%) a product’s impact on the environment is very important when making purchasing decisions. This is reflected in the 55% (European average 47%) of Italian consumers who state that eco-labelling plays an important role in purchasing decisions. It could therefore be argued that there is a very large and above average market for green products and carbon footprinting / eco-labelling services in Italy, which has to date been overlooked.

Across Europe large supermarket chains have tried to adapt to consumer demand by providing more information to consumers who can make a more informed choice. Tesco in the UK worked in partnership with the Carbon Trust to provide detailed information regarding the total carbon footprint of each of their own brand products through eco-labelling. Spain is also moving in this direction but in Italy no such information is to be found on labels despite 80% (the same percentage as in the UK and above the 72% European average) of Italians believe it should be mandatory.

There are however positive signals from proactive retailers who are doing what they can to give Italians the environmentally friendly option. A perfect example of this is the completely “green” supermarket opened in Milan on September 11th 2009 by SMA, part of the Auchan Group. The supermarket is supposedly eco-friendly in every way. From an energy efficiency point of view interventions have been made so as to save 296,800 kWh yearly. The electricity used will all be obtained from renewable sources (hydroelectric). All the furniture and materials used in the store are recycled, and most products and packaging are eco-friendly. It will be interesting to see how Italian consumers respond to this kind of offering, but chances are this is the beginning of a change in consumer habits and retail trends.

Producers and retails could be said to be making the first steps to jolt the market.

Paolo Ghiringhelli
Trade Adviser
British Consulate Milan

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