Guest Blog: Iceland wins supermarket plastic battle – Adoreboard, Conran Design Group

Plastic packaging, especially some of the shadier exported landfill recycling practices, and the impact on our oceans is on everyone’s agenda at the moment. Industry comment and opinion is rife about the topic, but how does the UK consumer feel about the actions being taken by some of the most criticised users of plastic: supermarkets?
Conran Design Group has partnered with Adoreboard to find out how people feel about the use of plastic by UK supermarkets Iceland, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons. We analysed 8,000 tweets to review what people are saying about these brands and reveal how they feel about them: which ones are the heroes and which ones are the villains.

In terms of ‘trust’ and with a score of ‘44’, Iceland is the clear hero of this survey. This is following the announcement of the supermarket’s commitment to being plastic-free on its own products by 2023. The supermarket’s message has been heard and heralded by consumers on Twitter, with tweets such as, ‘@Iceland are the new eco-warriors, trail blazing in cutting plastics use’. In contrast, Sainsbury’s, which scored only ‘36’ for ‘trust’, has only set a target to reduce its packaging by half by 2020, and is being called to task, ‘No fruit purchased from @sainsburys Lovely #plastic free from local independent greengrocer instead. High time the big supermarkets stepped up & demonstrated genuine #corporateresponsibility #PlasticFreeAisle #PlasticPollution’ (sic).

The Iceland announcement has overshadowed the other big four’s plans for plastic recycling and we saw Morrisons and Tesco only scoring ‘30’ and ‘35’ respectively for ‘trust’. This could be a reflection on both supermarkets’ attitude toward the 5p plastic carrier bag.
‘What does ‘Plastic not currently recycled’ mean? This type of plastic can’t be recycled or we haven’t got enough facilities to recycle it? Come on you supermarkets insist on biodegradable. It’s insane! @sainsburys @Tesco @Morrisons @waitrose @marksandspencer @PlasticPollutes’.

The influence of the TV programme Blue Planet 2, which galvanised people’s opinion on plastic pollution, was also evident in the research. ‘Pleased 2 hear @IcelandFoods moving 2wards #PlasticFree on own label products. _@Tesco @Ocado @sainsburys etc all follow suit SOON. Shame it took #BluePlanet to raise awareness____!!!’
‘@Hard to think of a TV programme that has had as much impact in bringing an issue to public consciousness as #BluePlanet2’

The research revealed that consumers are being very vocal on Twitter about the scourge of plastic in supermarkets and they expect retailers to respond now, ‘@Every time we shop, we vote for the kind of products we want to buy. Tell supermarkets we want #plasticfree produce! @tesco @morrisons’

In the UK, trust is now the second most important reason for choosing a retailer, after price (PwC survey 2017). Trust promotes brand loyalty and retailers must listen to their customers voices especially on social media where word of mouth is king and bad reviews can wipe out years of carefully built trust.


More research can be found on the Adoreboard website

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