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For Veganuary, REWE supermarket advertises CO2 savings instead of discounted prices

German supermarket chain REWE recently ran an unusual promotion: instead of cutting prices, it advertised CO2e* discounts using the familiar graphic style that normally indicates bargains. The retailer showed how much CO2e  customers could save for a selection of products. The difference between higher 'prices' and lower ones? The low CO2e values were for REWE Bio+vegan products, and the high ones were for their animal-based counterparts — oat milk vs cow's milk, falafel vs meat, etc.

Values were based on calculations by ClimatePartner, using the 'Greenhouse Gas Protocol Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard' following a cradle-to-customer plus waste approach. REWE was voted Germany's most vegan-friendly supermarket in 2021 (losing to competitor Globus in 2022).

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REWE's Veganuary promotion touches on the current tension consumers feel. In inflationary times, many are forced to focus on lower prices. A recent survey of UK adults by insurer Zurich found that "six in ten (59 percent) shoppers say they have been forced to choose less sustainable but cheaper options as prices increase — despite wanting to make more eco-friendly choices."

But for consumers who can swing a slightly higher price, lower CO2e emissions — as REWE points out — offer permanent value. Unlike the limited-time offers advertised in weekly circulars, these discounts have a lasting and positive effect on climate change. When highlighting sustainable choices, how could your brand help customers distinguish between short-term and long-term gains?

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* CO2e refers to carbon dioxide equivalent, which includes both CO2 and other greenhouse gases.