UK shoppers to opt for sustainable retail brands during the Golden Quarter, new research finds

Tug, a leading digital performance marketing agency, today launched new research identifying UK consumer shopping preferences during Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas.

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The study found that the majority (67%) of Brits pay attention to the sustainability and environmental efforts of retail brands, with over a third (37%) searching for more sustainable retail brands online – yet only 17% say it impacts where they choose to shop.

However, when it comes to the Golden Quarter, sustainability will impact purchasing decisions. In fact, the majority (78%) of consumers said that whether or not brands clearly communicate their sustainability efforts will have ‘somewhat’ of an impact over where they will shop on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, followed by almost two thirds (63%) over the Christmas period.

To discover what retail brands are doing in regards to sustainable practices, over a third (37%) of consumers are using online search via a search engine. This is especially true for those aged 67+ (Boomers), with two in five (42%) in this age range using search to source this information. Meanwhile, more than a quarter of Gen Z’s are using TikTok (28%) to identify sustainable brands, while over a quarter (26%) of Millennials are using Instagram. Additionally, two in five (21%) consumers are still relying on recommendations from friends or family to identify sustainable brands.

The report also looked at when and how much consumers will spend during the Golden Quarter,  as well as how they will purchase and attitudes towards retailers’ use of their data.  Almost half (47%) of Brits aren’t planning to spend during the Black Friday weekend. Additionally, over the Christmas period, only 14% of Brits are planning to spend more than in 2020, spending an average of £447 over the Christmas period.

Almost half (47%) plan to do the majority of their shopping online during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, followed by two in five (41%) during the festive period. To find the best deals online, 45% of Brits will use online search via a search engine.

During this important retail period, the majority (90%) of UK consumers are open to buying directly from brand websites, which will be driven by cheaper prices (54%), speed of delivery (36%) and free returns (35%). In addition, almost half (49%) of Brits are likely to make an expensive purchase online without viewing the item in person.

Older generations would be more likely to purchase directly from a brand for cheaper prices, including 61% of Gen X and 60% of Boomers, compared to just 40% of Gen Z. Meanwhile, almost two in five (19%) Millennials would be likely to shop directly from a brand’s website due to sustainable practices.

Finally, almost half (46%) of consumers confirmed that they pay attention to how brands use their personal data, with 17% confirming that they would only buy from brands that clearly communicate how they use this information. This is especially true for more than half (52%) of those aged between 41-56, Gen X, who pay close attention to how their personal data is used, compared to just 45% of millennials. 

Faye Daffarn, managing director, UK, Tug, said: “Currently, “climate anxiety” is the top concern for UK customers. Our research shows that this is now being reflected in shopping preferences during the Golden Quarter, with the sustainability efforts of brands set to impact where 78% of UK consumers will shop. This means it is crucial that retailers are effectively delivering their environmental messaging during this key commercial period. An integrated, multi-channel approach that reaches consumers across multiple touchpoints – not only when they are in-market to purchase, but also when they are in browsing mode, will enable retailers to maximise sales during this key commercial period.

By optimising search strategies through a smart combination of SEO and PPC, retailers can drive visibility of sustainable practices with Boomers.  To help present new ideas to generations like Millennials and Gen Z, as well as established brand followers, retailers should create sophisticated paid social strategies that layer in the different formats and engagement tactics offered by platforms such as TikTok and Instagram.”

Esha Ahmed, founder of ethical fashion and homeware brand, Omi Na-Na: “In a world dominated by fast fashion and fast buying, it is definitely promising to see that a large proportion of people are now giving thought to brands’ eco and sustainability credentials and that almost 40% are actively searching for more sustainable brands online. This shows that we are beginning to see a shift in consumer preferences to more responsible production which is, of course, a welcomed change. With the Golden Quarter just around the corner, I hope that we see this change in trend result in greater support for smaller brands and businesses that have been working so hard to champion a different way of bringing fashion to the market. This is our next step and challenge!”

Tug

Tug is a full-service digital performance marketing agency with expertise rooted in search marketing. Our offices in London, Berlin, Toronto and Sydney mix local capabilities with international scale to drive real business advantage for our clients, removing barriers to siloed thinking for optimal outcomes. Tug supports brands - across a wide variety of verticals - looking to capitalise on the growing number of consumers online, with integrated, data-driven digital campaigns.  The team focuses on driving results and holds themselves accountable for each client's performance. Proudly working with clients such as Muller, WWF, Zipcar, Compare the Market and Norton.