The power of the critical consumer or the meatless burger - ZERO
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The power of the critical consumer or the meatless burger

The power of the critical consumer or the meatless burger

It’s called Impossible Whopper  and it’s Burger King’s first meatless burger. It sounds like an anecdote, but it’s far from that. Behind this new product is the intention to capture and respond to a new consumer. According to the company itself, they aim to “curb excessive meat production, using fewer resources and minimising the negative impact on the environment”.

In practice, this implies a change in the supply chain, looking for new production methods and preparing new packaging, an effort that would not be made without estimating an impact on the profit account in the medium term. This is just one example, but if Burger King takes such pains to respond to a new consumer profile, perhaps it is time to consider whether our company has a place in the circular economy.

Undoubtedly, breaking with the exhausted linear economy is one of the great challenges that the industry will have to face. Understand “will have” by an imminent future, a crucial premise in the adaptation to the new market. Tax laws, legal regulations, state aid… go in this direction and now also the consumer.

An (un)trained customer

Our public is an increasingly demanding person, who cares about the origin and process of the product or service they purchase. We are talking about an environmentally educated buyer: they want to consume and invest in companies committed to climate change and become interested and question the development model. They are no longer content with a “green friendly” brand image, but demand information on business transformation.

This ecological awareness is causing business practices to be rethought. In a very short time, the consumer will decide to penalize entrepreneurial inaction. Reports reveal the environmental impact of many companies, news highlights efforts to reduce the CO2 footprint of some brands, even in advertising begins to sound the word circular economy … All this reaches consumers and takes center stage in their purchase decision.

Ecological awareness in data

In 2018, the Spanish population was the second most concerned about global warming and climate change (51%), only surpassed by Japan (52%) and preceded by Germany (50%), according to reports released on the occasion of the celebration of International Earth Day.

The IPSOS study, carried out after a survey of 19,519 people in 28 countries around the world, indicates an increase in concern about climate change, air pollution and waste management compared to 2017, when the three aspects stood at 30%.

No less than 39% of the Spanish population is in favour of increasing taxes on supermarkets and shops, sectors that use non-recyclable plastics, while 25% are in favour of imposing a tax on products packaged with non-reusable materials.

Globally, respondents favour putting more pressure on governments to increase public spending with the aim of improving the range of recyclable products (46%), establishing taxes for companies using non-recyclable products (33%) and raising taxes on these products (30%).

More data pointing in the same direction: Dunnhumby, a company specialising in data analysis, says there is a profound change in the profile of consumers, who are seeking “more than ever responsible consumption”. Similarly, according to a survey by the Organisation of Consumers and Users (OCU) and Nesi Forum, consumers are increasingly taking into account ethical and sustainability factors when buying.

Clear environmental information

As the environmental culture grows, so does the responsibility of consumers, and for this reason clear labelling of the environmental impact of the product they purchase is increasingly demanded.

Today there are already several labels that clarify the impact of products, the so-called eco-labels, and their aim is to inform and encourage consumers to choose products or services with less impact and encourage companies in their environmental commitment:

  • European Union Eco-label (Ecolabel): voluntarily identifies products that have a reduced environmental impact. It takes into account the use of natural resources and energy, emissions into the atmosphere, water and soil or the generation and treatment of waste, among others.
  • AENOR-Environment: is a label that recognizes that a product has less impact on the environment during its life cycle.
  • German Blue Angel: employed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • Norwegian Nordic Swan: it is of special importance in the paper industry of the Nordic countries as its pulp production processes follow the ecological criteria imposed by this certification system.
  • Energy Efficiency Label: it is mandatory and reports the consumption of the appliance in relation to the average consumption of its category.
  • EU Energy Star: also meets energy efficiency criteria. Through its link you can identify the models of office equipment with greater efficiency and that best fit their performance criteria.
  • FSC (Forest Certification): is an international body that certifies that managed forests meet environmental requirements and human rights.
  • ISO 14001: the certified companies have a management system through which they identify their main impacts on the environment and try to improve them continuously. It is international in scope.
  • EMAS: is a voluntary mechanism aimed at companies and organisations that wish to assess, manage and improve their environmental performance. Regulated by a European Regulation, it is more demanding than ISO 14001.


In view of these data, there is only one thing to reflect on: it is no longer a question of brand image, but of understanding that the consumer is asking for data (proof) of the commitment of large companies to climate change. 

Cover image: Ryoji Iwata