There’s a perception that the Netherlands is a world leader in sustainability. But PwC’s 10th annual Global Consumer Insights Survey (GCIS) reveals that Dutch consumers actually lag slightly behind the citizens of many other nations when it comes to sustainable shopping habits.
PwC finds that 28% of surveyed Dutch consumers look for products with environmentally friendly packaging, compared with 37% of surveyed consumers worldwide. There’s also a difference when it comes to choosing sustainable products to help protect the environment: 27% of Dutch consumers said they prioritise this, versus 35% of global survey respondents. And 23% of the Dutch respondents said they buy brands that support sustainable practices, compared with 29% globally. Dutch shoppers in PwC’s survey are also consistently less willing to pay a premium for sustainability, be it for sustainably produced food or products from brands that make donations to charity (see Exhibit 1).
Interestingly, PwC found that the higher their salaries, the less interested the Dutch are in sustainability. This is especially so for Baby Boomers.
But as thought-provoking and useful as the comparative data is, it’s important to emphasise that the absolute numbers still point to Dutch concern with sustainability, even if it’s not as fervent as in other places in the world. PwC’s study highlights three crucial points that consumer-products companies should factor into their go-to-market approaches in the Netherlands.
First, more than half are willing to pay a premium for locally produced food items. Second, a reduction in the overall use of plastics is a definite priority for the Dutch. Of the Dutch consumers surveyed, 37% said they try to avoid plastic items such as straws (see Exhibit 2). Neither of these figures is as high in the Dutch population as globally, but the data still shows significant Dutch interest in these particular aspects of sustainability.
Third, PwC’s survey results shows that city dwellers buy more sustainably. The Dutch national statistics office (CBS) and the national planning agency (PBL) forecast city populations to grow and rural population to decline in coming years.
The clear signal for consumer packaged goods companies is that they must stay alert to demographic shifts and pay close attention to the sustainability issues that Dutch consumers do deeply care about.
Online buying is rapidly becoming the norm for consumers in the Netherlands. More than 30% of Dutch respondents in PwC’s 10th annual Global Consumer Insights Survey (GCIS) said they make online purchases weekly or more frequently, putting habits in the Netherlands in line with the global average.
When the Dutch go shopping, they don’t usually gravitate toward the store-brand stuff. Typically, A-brand products are the first things they drop into their baskets. PwC’s 10th annual Global Consumer Insights Survey (GCIS) clearly shows their preferences.