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While consumers increasingly express interest in sustainability, many may not be ready to put their money where their mouth is.
Our global survey of more than 30,000 consumers in 64 markets confirms that the price premium for sustainable features can often be a deal breaker for shoppers. Conducted in collaboration with Nielsen, our research generated additional insights on consumers’ subjective perceptions, attitudes, preferences, and buying behaviors related to sustainability. Insights include how consumers define it, how they view companies’ and policy makers’ efforts to achieve it, which features attract consumers to sustainable brands or turn them away, and where they rank sustainability features among their buying criteria.
Despite growing interest in sustainability, consumers generally don’t prioritize sustainability among their buying criteria. Price, function, performance, quality, and convenience remain their primary considerations. Our research found that, for example, when purchasing major home appliances and choosing a daily mode of transportation, consumers generally prioritize utilitarian, functional features over energy efficiency, country of production, and environmental impact.
However, sustainability features can be a meaningful brand differentiator for buyers once their core purchasing criteria, which include an acceptable price and decent quality, have been met. Hence, through sustainable offerings that also satisfy consumers’ core buying criteria, companies can better society while also supporting their business objectives: their sustainability-mindedness helps customers and employees to align with values they identify with, thus also creating long-term value for owners and investors.