Do Consumers Care About Sustainability & Should I Pay Attention?

Is the work required to become a more eco-friendly company worth it?
March 29, 2022

If sustainability is something that you’ve been thinking about a lot recently, you aren’t alone. 

Sustainable consumerism is a hot topic amongst a large number of businesses, with many of them, big and small, adopting more sustainable practices. 

But is the work required to become a more eco-friendly company worth it? 

Do consumers care about sustainability?

Over the past five years, there has been a staggering increase in shoppers actively searching for environmentally friendly products and green businesses. In fact, there’s been a 71% global rise in online searches for sustainable goods, and 72% of people now purchase more environmentally friendly products from companies with the same environmental and social values as their own.

With over 40% of consumers actively choosing brands with environmentally friendly values and 34% boycotting brands due to ethical concerns, sustainability is a prominent and growing factor in consumer shopping habits. 

Alongside actively seeking out ethical brands, consumers are willing to spend more money to buy sustainably. In fact, 66% of consumers are willing to spend more money on sustainable products, and a study by Simon-Kucher & Partners found that people are willing to pay as much as 25% more for greener alternatives. 

While millennials are twice as likely as boomers to change their shopping habits to reduce their environmental impact, Gen Z is soon to become the next dominant generation, with many being more concerned about sustainability than millennials.  

Now, more than ever before, it’s clear that sustainability is becoming increasingly important for consumers, so it’s paramount that brands address this demand. CEO of Unilever, Alan Jope, believes  that “any company that wants to stay relevant in the future should think about sustainable behaviour.”

How would integrating sustainability into my business help?

Refocusing your business with a more sustainable approach has proven to benefit the environment and can greatly impact key business objectives.

Recent studies have shown that companies that best manage their environmental impact are more profitable in the medium to long term. Research suggests that companies that have implemented sustainability into their business practices are up to 2.5x more successful than companies that haven’t.

And it's not just profit that positive impact can benefit. 

Shape World, a health and fitness brand that has implemented environmental impact into its e-commerce business with Greenspark, has found that adding climate action to its sales, email marketing and review strategy has massively increased customer engagement. 

Since adding positive impact into their business practices, Shape World saw their add-to-cart rate increase by 7.50%, with an 8.66% increase in conversion and an overall increase of 10.50% increase in revenue. 

They also saw a 133% increase in review rate, and further research found that 84% of their consumers would sign up for a company newsletter if trees were being planted or plastic was being removed from the ocean.

Developing a more sustainable business strategy is definitely something to start working towards. However, it’s not always easy and can be daunting for many businesses to get started.

Is there anything else to consider?

While consumers are showing a high interest in ethical consumerism and making small changes in their shopping habits to help fight climate change, they also have their worries. With the cost of living crisis impacting millions of people, the question remains, will these consumer behavioural changes become permanent?  

While interest is high for consumers, there is still doubt, with the expense being the main factor when it comes to consumers adopting more sustainable behaviours, with 52% of adult shoppers saying eco-friendly products are too expensive. 

As well as cost, nearly one in two consumers do not know when to trust a business's sustainability claims. 

Based on this, it’s worth remembering that sustainable business practices alone are not the answer.  it’s not just essential to become more sustainable but also to consider the quality and cost of products being produced, how you market your products, and how you engage with your customers. Transparency is also vital to ensure your customers truly understand what the impact is for them and the planet.  

Should I implement sustainable practices in my business?

Recent trends and research suggest that a sustainability strategy is not just worth it; it’s critical when it comes to future-proofing your business.

In a recent survey, 65% of medium-sized organisations said they had committed to sourcing sustainably-produced raw materials, while 60% now collect data on supply-chain sustainability. Why? Because consumer demand is forcing them to focus on their environmental impact. 

This drive in change shows us that sustainability is not just a fleeting trend but will continue to change how we think about consumption and business for a long time. 

Final points

Building a green business is crucial for the planet and helping fight climate change, but it's also critical in catering to future consumers. Retail customers are outright demanding for a change to how business is done, with future generations only expected to shout louder. It’s up to businesses  to listen and use their demands to future proof your business or 

It’s never too late to start listening to your customers.

If you'd like to learn more about the steps you can take to make your business more sustainable, here are our top tips on changes you can implement as a starting point.

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