November 3, 2021
By Marjorie DePuy, Senior Director, Supply Chain and Sustainability, IMF and Rick Tibbetts, Communications Specialist, IMF
Give and you will receive. This age-old adage not only fits this charitable time of year, but it also provides concise advice for grocery retailers looking to maximize customer loyalty and satisfaction. Now more than ever, consumers want to know that the places where they do business are the guarantors of ethical standards and catalysts for positive change. Social responsibility initiatives offer grocery retailers an effective way to maintain public trust and uplift the communities they serve.
Fortunately, many consumers already view grocery stores as having their best interests at heart. In fact, 55% of shoppers say their main grocery store is on their side when it comes to helping them stay healthy, second only to family, friends and doctor. Having such confidence is fundamental to business, and it must be actively maintained so as not to be lost.
After all, according to the IMF Trends in grocery shoppers in the United States 2021 report, 60% of consumers consider open and honest business practices to be the most important factor in choosing a primary store – a ten point jump from 2020. Thirty-two percent say community involvement is the most important factor – up five percent from the previous year.
These feelings are not lost on grocery retailers. According to Food retail industry talks 2021 report, 68% identify social and environmental responsibility as a differentiation strategy that they use, with many of them saying that this strategy is very effective for them. Good corporate citizenship has long been a priority for grocery retailers. Ninety percent already have quantified goals for charitable giving. On the environmental front, 86% have set or are working on quantified targets and deadlines for energy consumption reduction, 61% and 25% respectively.
Efforts to expand Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DCI) have also been a priority for many players in the food industry. To ensure that their essential company-wide workers reflect the communities in which they operate, 73% of grocery retailers have policies in place to promote diversity in hiring, and 70% have targets for DCI efforts as a whole.
With information like this, it’s no wonder that a third of food retailers have seen positive impacts on their business (and 4% or less negative impacts) of consumer demands for social responsibility and accountability. transparency in 2020. Food retailers who integrate social and environmental well-being into the traditional scope of work may see a return on investment that goes beyond the bottom line. Meeting and anticipating the needs of the community and society as a whole can drive sales growth, build confidence in the food industry, and improve our world.