Consumers and Sustainability: New Study

Written by on February 7, 2013 in Social Business - No comments

A recent study by The Regeneration Roadmap project provides an interesting view into the minds of today’s “conscious consumer” and raises some interesting insights on the current state of sustainable consumption. Here are some of the highlights:

The study found that two-thirds of consumers globally “feel a sense of responsibility to society” (65%), and that they “have a responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society”.

The affinity toward sustainable consumption is much more pervasive in developing markets versus developed markets. In fact, consumers in places such as Brazil, China and India, are twice as likely to report purchasing products because of environmental and social benefits than those who reside in Germany, UK and the US (51% to 22%, respectively). On the flip side, consumers in the study were asked about motivations for switching brands and trying new products. Their responses show that their preferences and actions are much more dictated by performance, price and value as compared to the social and environmental impact of the product or service.

Further underlining the importance of performance and price, consumers also ranked quality and cost as the most critical barriers preventing them from sustainable purchasing. Also ranking high was whether they believed companies’ claims related to environmental and social impact.

 If you are a social enterprise, or a company that is working hard to be more socially responsible, there are a few interesting takeaways here.

  • Consumer sentiment is absolutely trending in the right direction, but at the moment, words are speaking louder than actions.
  • It’s not enough to be a good company. You must produce quality products at competitive prices and brand them effectively.
  • Because of widespread “greenwashing” and companies who are only “sustainable” in their marketing materials, consumers are carrying a healthy dose of skepticism. This makes it harder for you to build trust and credibility.

About the Study

Developed by BBMGGlobeScan and SustainAbility, The Regeneration Consumer Study is an in-depth online survey of consumer attitudes, motivations and behaviors relating to sustainable consumption among 6,224 respondents across six major international markets (Brazil, China, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States) conducted in September and October 2012.

The study is part of the The Regeneration Roadmap, a collaborative and multi-faceted thought leadership initiative designed to engage the private sector in advancing sustainable development by improving sustainability strategy, increasing credibility and delivering results at greater speed and scale.

The Regeneration Consumer Study is sponsored by several big brands, including Brown-Forman, Campbell Soup Company and Starbucks.

What’s your take on this research? What implications does it have for the present and future state of conscious consumerism?





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