Ranjana Sundaresan
Ranjana is Mintel’s Senior Research Analyst based in Mumbai. She specialises in analysing global consumer trends—with an Indian focus—and global trend observations.

Around the world, we are seeing eco-friendly delivery options pop up in an effort to deal with traffic congestion and pollution—especially for last-mile deliveries. UPS in the UK and DHL in Germany are trialling versions of bicycle delivery services in an effort to be sustainable, while in the Netherlands, supermarket chain Jumbo delivers groceries using electric vehicles that emit no carbon dioxide, and have no detrimental impact on noise, air quality or climate.

In India, online grocery company Grofers has started its delivery operations in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) using environmentally friendly electric auto-rickshaws rather than standard delivery trucks.

India’s online grocery landscape

The online grocery space in India is small, but one of the fastest growing online retailing segments globally. According to new research from Mintel, among urban Indian internet users, it was found that 18% of grocery shoppers say they shop for groceries online at least once a week, with the number going up to 21% in Delhi. This is reflected in Mintel Trend ‘Straight to You’ which discusses how consumers expect products and services to be brought directly to them, wherever they are.

By July 2018, Grofers plans to introduce 50 e-rickshaws making deliveries in the region. According to the company, this will help reduce the cost of deliveries by 25% while catering to the growing population of online grocery shoppers.

Green delivery

As the online shopping segment grows, so too will the need for better delivery operations. This will call for more vehicles on the roads, adding to the already congested roads and growing pollution levels in the country’s urban centres. Delhi, in particular will be affected, given its dubious distinction of being the one of the most polluted cities in the world today.

This is backed up by a study by Greenpeace, which found Delhi’s annual average PM10 level to be 290 micrograms per cubic metre—the highest among the 280 cities monitored by India’s Central Pollution Control Board. PM10 refers to particulate matter that is 10 micrometres or less in diameter, with the annual standard recommended by the World Health Organization being 60 micrograms per cubic metre.

As Indian consumers become more aware about air pollution, they are also becoming worried about its impact—this is reflected in Mintel’s research as well.

What we think

Given the impact of air pollution on people’s health and overall quality of life, brands that actively work towards reducing their carbon footprint will find favour with environmentally conscious consumers. In addition, initiatives such as eco-friendly delivery systems will double up as tools to spread awareness of the various environmental problems.