Promoting the use of sustainable products and services is an important part of REWE Group’s sustainability strategy. To make more sustainable product ranges a success, their social and environmental added value must be communicated to consumers in an understandable and credible manner. Consideration must also be given to the fact that other criteria like price, quality and freshness go into purchasing decisions as well. Retail plays an important intermediary part in this context. Without adequate demand and a willingness to pay on the part of the customer, responsible providers can run into financial difficulties. And without a broad range of sustainable products, consumers are unable to act in an ethically responsible way. For this reason, REWE Group has committed itself to moving sustainability from a niche role and rather incorporating it as part of the mass market.
As part of its sustainability communication effort, REWE Group takes a number of different steps that are designed to facilitate informed purchasing decisions and to excite consumers about more sustainable products and services. The key principles of communications are credibility, transparency and messages aimed at specific target groups.
REWE Group works to promote sustainable consumption and to put an end to its “niche existence”. Part of this effort involves getting consumers excited about sustainability and making them aware of sustainability issues in their everyday lives.
One key aspect of this effort is REWE Group’s Sustainability Weeks. During a defined campaign period, the company’s various sales lines explore the issue of more sustainable consumption with their customers within the context of an overarching societal topic like conscious diets, social involvement and regionality. One fixed part of Sustainability Weeks is participatory activities that encourage people to take action and that frequently bring abstract sustainability topics to life by providing specific examples. In addition, the company increases the advertising of the more sustainable products in the sales lines’ product ranges, including branded products. In the process, REWE Group creates awareness about sustainability in purchasing decisions and promotes responsible consumption among its customers. In 2016, REWE and PENNY each conducted three Sustainability Weeks, just as they did in 2015. As part of its Sustainability Weeks, DER Touristik explained biodiversity to its customers. toom Baumarkt DIY stores focused on biodiversity, climate protection and inclusion during the reporting period. At REWE Group in Austria, the annual Sustainability Weeks were conducted under the motto of “Gemeinsam an morgen denken” (Thinking Together About Tomorrow).
Each year, REWE Group and the sustainability foundation Stiftung Deutscher Nachhaltigkeitspreis e.V. present the German Sustainability Award in the category Germany’s Most Sustainable Products (Food and Non-Food). In this competition, consumers have an opportunity to vote on the most sustainable branded products. The producers of branded products can compete for this award. In 2016, the competition was opened to all listed suppliers of REWE Group for the first time. In a short-listing process, the sustainable contribution of the selected products is reviewed by the Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production in Wuppertal, Germany. The products are then nominated for the online voting competition by the jury of the German Sustainability Award.
The winners during the reporting period were:
The sales lines of REWE Group conduct sustainability-related communication activities to sensitise consumers about its sustainability involvement and sustainable consumption. During the reporting period, PENNY launched a sustainability campaign that featured the frog figure “Günter Kastenforsch” invented by Janosch, a German author and illustrator of children’s book. Under the motto of “grün sparen” (the Green Way to Save), “grün genießen” (the Green Way to Enjoy) and “grün engagieren” (the Green Way to Get Involved), the cute sustainability ambassador provided clear, down-to-earth information about the ways that sustainability benefits the environment, society and customers themselves.
REWE made regionality the focus of its national campaign in Germany. Customers were informed in a widely broadcast TV ad. Regional suppliers were introduced on interactive website, and customers were encouraged to upload their own regional recipes.
The products of REWE Group are labelled in accordance with legal requirements regarding their origin, composition and usage (including the expiration date). In addition to facts required by law, REWE Group labels the sustainability aspects of its products and provides detailed information about the origin of many of them.
With its PRO PLANET process, REWE Group has created a system that enables it to clearly and transparently provide sustainability information on products. The PRO PLANET website includes additional information about individual products that can be directly accessed by entering a product-specific code on the label. The PRO PLANET label serves as a navigation system for consumers (for an overview of these products in the assortment and a description of the PRO PLANET process, see GRI 204: Procurement Practices).
In addition, REWE Group uses recognized external labels to mark its store brands and adds branded products with these labels to its assortments. These labels include the Blauer Engel (Blue Angel), Fairtrade, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®), the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC™), the Rainforest Alliance, the German Association of Non-Genetically Modified Foods (VLOG), the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and UTZ. Organic and regional products also have their own labels. Nearly all fresh fish counters at REWE stores have been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) since 2009 and by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) since 2012.
To enable consumers to take informed buying decisions amid this maze of labels, REWE and PENNY have posted the most important information about the labels and certifications that they use on their websites (REWE;PENNY).
toom Baumarkt DIY stores worked with the consumer group Verbraucher Initiative e.V. to develop a guideline for sustainability labels. The guideline is designed to provide customers with a map to more sustainable purchases and provides information about recommended labels found on products in the DIY store. The selection of labels is based on ratings by the consumer portal label-online.de. The guideline is distributed in stores as a printed leaflet and can be downloaded here. For its non-food products, REWE Group uses the TÜV Exklusiv seal that applies to the quality and safety of products. Every product certified by the technical services company is given an individual ID number that can be used to obtain additional information. In 2015, 348 products were awarded the seal for the first time. A total of 225 were added in 2016. By the end of 2016, 3,707 products had been awarded the TÜV Exklusiv seal.
To provide travellers interested in sustainability with transparent decision-making assistance, DER Touristik is working on a strategy to clearly label sustainable travel opportunities. As part of this work, the number of labels used in the catalogues of the tour operator was reduced from 23 to one – the sustainability seal Travelife. Travelife is an industry-wide, internationally recognised label that rates such criteria as energy efficiency, waste avoidance and fair working conditions. The labelled hotels use green power, pay the minimum wage to their employees and train them about child protection. As part of the project Green Travel Transformation being conducted by the sustainability initiative Futouris, DER Touristik is also helping to develop an industry-wide label for sustainable travel opportunities that can be directly used in the information and booking system of tour operators. DER Touristik plans to consider a larger number of labels under the uniform logo once again in the future.
Many consumers want to know something about the origin of the products they buy. REWE Group responds to this wish by taking such steps as highlighting the origin of its regional products and having information about many products certified according to the criteria of the programme Regionalfenster (Regional Window) (see, GRI 204: Procurement Practices).
As part of its Guideline for Fish, Crustacean and Shellfish (formerly the Guideline for Purchasing Sustainable Wild Fish), REWE Group introduced a tracking code for store-brand fish products in 2012. With this code, consumers can go to the websites of the REWE and PENNY sales lines and learn about the supply chain of fish products. In addition, the first aquaculture products can now be tracked online all the way back to the farming region. More than 70 fish products now have the tracking code. This represents a share of 85 per cent.
In 2014, the name of the actual production company began to be included on the store-brand products sold by PENNY and REWE. This provides consumers with additional transparency about the supply chain. REWE Group continues to be listed as the production company in only a few exceptions, including the products of the brand Feine Welt (Fine World) that are made by small suppliers.
As a matter of principle, REWE Group advertises its products and services in strict conformity with legal requirements as well as with ethical and cultural standards. It expressly avoids the use of sexist, discriminatory, political, pornographic, extremist and violence-glorifying advertising. Truth, precision and transparency are the fundamental advertising principles employed by the company. In addition, REWE Group adheres to its own company-wide code of conduct, regulations, guidelines and rules laid down by national advertising boards. To succeed, communications of sustainability issues require a significant amount of credibility. In its Guideline for Sustainable Business Practises, REWE Group expresses its explicit commitment to complying with applicable consumer-protection regulations and to employing appropriate sales, marketing and information practises in communications with consumers. As a way of considering these factors in the advertising concepts, the company’s ads are approved by the Sustainability Department before being published.
In the reporting period 2015/2016, no significant violations were known.