The internet and social media have made it easier than ever for consumers to keep informed on ethical issues and to find out the standards their favourite brands hold. Documentaries such as Blue Planet, Cowspiracy and a significant increase in news campaigns promoting ethical consumer choices have led more and more consumers to consider the impact of their purchases and lifestyle choices on the environment.
Every year January brings together a new consumer campaign known as “veganuary” inspiring people to eat and live a vegan/ plant-based lifestyle for the month of January. This year more and more brands jumped on the bandwagon by creating or extending their vegan ranges in store. It was hard to miss the controversy created by Gregg’s launch of a vegan sausage roll with controversial tv personality Piers Morgan sparking a viral public debate on veganism.
Nobody was waiting for a vegan bloody sausage, you PC-ravaged clowns. https://t.co/QEiqG9qx2G
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 2, 2019
Adoreboard uses advanced emotion AI to extract key themes and emotions from customer commentary both online and offline. Emotics, our emotion analytics platform can analyse any text for over 24 emotions. Understanding the key emotions of your customers can enhance brand customer centricity and enhance customer experience.
In order to understand customer perception and trust in ethical initiatives by brands, we analysed over 100,000 mentions of the leading UK supermarkets. We delved deeper into the data to see what themes were evoking key emotions such as trust, anger and joy.
Palm Oil Reduction
Frozen supermarket chain Iceland topped our analysis alongside Sainsbury’s with a Trust Score of 37. Trust is measured on an index from 0-100. High trust was driven towards Iceland after their controversially banned Christmas ad which featured a Greenpeace video explained the devastating effect of palm oil production on the rainforest. Many people talked positively about Iceland raising the issue of palm oil and making effort to reduce its use in their own-brand products.
This is fabulous news! I check every product I buy for palm oil so as to avoid it, and it's in an unbelievable amount of food items in every shop. Haven't used Iceland for years, but its commitment to reducing plastic waste and now this will change that. #thatswhyImgoingtoIceland https://t.co/NTJQW1rSst
— Weston in N Somerset (@ThisIsWeston) April 10, 2018
Extended Vegan Options
In January, just in time for veganuary Iceland announced an extension of vegan products in store. This introduction led to high levels of joy amongst customers praising the variety and quality of these products. People particularly enjoy the “No Bull’ range of vegan burgers and sausages and the addition of more Indian varieties.
Have to say, @IcelandFoods vegan/vegetarian No Bull, No Porkies and No Chick range hits the spot. All I need from them now are replacements for bacon, lamb and beef strips and I'll be one happy chappie
— Mark Anderson (@balaamsdonkeyuk) January 23, 2019
Think what you like about Iceland but these were excellent Indian dishes we had last night. All small vegan dishes from their Mumbai Street Co. range. pic.twitter.com/eUkxKniGJB
— Mark R. (@malongoman) April 29, 2018
Plastic Free by 2023
Another clear contributor to Iceland’s high trust score was their effort to remove unnecessary plastic packaging by 2023. People have taken to Twitter and Instagram to praise Iceland for already ditching the plastic packaging on bananas as part of the movement.
Supermarket @Iceland ditches plastic wrap on bananas to save 10,000,000 bags
Time to recommend this to other retailers @the_brc ??
— A Plastic Planet (@aplastic_planet) September 12, 2018
By making very public strides towards becoming a more ethical brand, Iceland are gaining trust and exposure with new and existing customers.
New Ready Meals
Sainsbury’s placed joint top in Trust with a score of 37 and also highest in Joy with a score of 52/100. High joy was driven by their vast and growing range of vegan meat substitutes. A major recurring theme in the analysis were Sainsbury’s own brand sausages being the best available option in UK supermarkets with their realistic taste.
— lynda carter (@lyndamcar10) January 23, 2019
High trust was also driven by praise for their vegan ready meal options. Own brand offerings plus new emerging brands such as Sophie’s Kitchen and Gardien.
— Dawn (@DawnSunrise1) January 21, 2019
— Lily Eyre (@Lily_Eyre) January 24, 2019
Not so Meat-free
It was not all good for Sainbury’s throughout the mentions there was some anger driven by claims there were traces of meat found in ‘meat free’ products. The Daily Mail, The Independent and Sky News covered the controversy.
Morrisons placed third in Trust with a score of 36 out of 100. Much like Sainsbury’s Morrisons have jumped on the veganuary bandwagon and worked to increase their vegan offerings. Mentions of vegan sushi drove high joy and trust amongst customers.
— QueenOfⓋegans (@QueenOfVegans) August 7, 2018
Further praise for vegan pizza and ice-cream also got people excited. Many making longer trips to Morrisons across the country to get their hands on some vegan ranges.
— Alice Wiggins (@glutenfreealice) January 7, 2019
One of the major recurring themes driving trust was Morrisons attempt to reduce plastic packaging in store. One of their first steps reported was their plan to introduce paper bags for loose fruit and veg and recyclable containers for meat purchases.
— 🌈❤ Marie ❤🌈 (@MevansNan23) October 4, 2018
However, some of their current efforts to reduce plastic are lacking. Complaints of bananas and deli counter plastic packaging have emerged.
— Hannah (@WasteFreeYork) January 25, 2019
Marks & Spencer
Highstreet heavyweight Marks and Spencer or M&S have increased trust from consumers with a trust score of 36 out of 100. The introduction of the convenience vegan food range “Plant Kitchen” which introduced more than 50 plant-based food choices. Including the popular vegan pizza, cauliflower popcorn bits and no pork sausages. The vast range of plant-based choices drove high joy amongst consumers praising M&S for their inclusivity and product development.
@marksandspencer What can I say… please give your Plant Kitchen chef a massive pat on the back!
It took you a while to jump on board the vegan train, but wow what an entrance you've made!! Bravo 👏💚🌱 #Plantkitchen #Vegan
— Sarah (@JustSez9) February 1, 2019
Loving the Plant Kitchen range at @marksandspencer Tried these burgers & coleslaw The coleslaw is out of this world – best vegan coleslaw I have ever tasted & the burgers had a great texture pic.twitter.com/U3FsGM34VR
— Julie McRoyall (@julesmcroyall) February 4, 2019
However, the main factor bringing anger into the mix is the high price of the range. Consumers are taking to Twitter and Instagram to complain about the high price tag on meat-free products, especially cauliflower steaks sold as two slices of cauliflower wrapped in plastic for £2 when you can buy a full cauliflower for £1.
M&S launched £2 cauliflower steaks today – yes, really. We easily rooted out a cheaper option with less plastic packaging and four times the amount of veg (Ok, you get a lemon drizzle with M&S, but you prob have that in cupboard already). For cheap veg: https://t.co/Bqa5zZUZNN pic.twitter.com/IwnzCL2EVt
— Money Saving Expert (@MoneySavingExp) January 10, 2018
Brands can no longer hide from emerging sustainability trends. Consumers are more educated than ever on their impact on the planet. Plant-based diets, plastic-free packaging, ethically sourced meat are all part of the future. This analysis has shown the clear impact brands can have on their customer trust and overall experience by recognising and introducing green initiatives into their everyday business practices and products.
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