LONDON — “Green consumerism” will be a huge driver of innovation and change in the food retailing sector, according to Lucy Neville-Rolfe, executive director, Tesco, who predicts shoppers will increasingly look to supermarkets to help them live a more environmentally sustainable life.
Speaking at the IGD Global Retailing conference here this month, Neville-Rolfe suggested the move toward green living could be the “biggest consumer trend of them all,” and she said Tesco wants to be a leader in this revolution in green consumption. To this end, the company is working with its suppliers to create more environmentally friendly packaging, heating, lighting and methods of transport.
In accordance with Tesco's ethos, this activity is entirely driven by the demands of its customers. “Tesco is not a drugs or a car company, with an R&D budget and men in white coats — it's simply responding to customers,” said Neville-Rolfe. “They are becoming more demanding and they want to feel good about it.”
Tesco's knowledge of its shoppers is helped greatly by its Clubcard loyalty scheme, which Neville-Rolfe said is “central to conceiving and testing innovations.
“We invest in this rich seam of data, as it's a powerful R&D tool,” she added. “The common theme of innovation at Tesco is on the customers — is it [about] what the customers want to buy?”
How Tesco responds to consumer demands — and how it innovates — on the issue of climate change and the environment will determine how successful it is in the future, according to Neville-Rolfe.
Whatever innovations Tesco develops are likely to be shared around the globe with all countries in which it operates, she said, citing as an example a camera technology aimed at helping speed up checkout lines that was developed in Bangalore and will soon be rolled out internationally.
Implementing myriad changes is commonplace at Tesco, according to Neville-Rolfe, who said this sets the company apart from many successful businesses that tend to avoid change. It is the grocer's ongoing program of change and its entrepreneurial spirit, she said, that have resulted in the development of start-ups, such as the new Tesco Direct catalog business, the company's forthcoming U.S. venture and its Tesco.com online site.