Just how much are consumers prioritizing sustainability? Quite a lot, according to new data from Acosta.
The company's new Sustainability Impact on Purchase Behavior report shows that 59% of shoppers are making it a priority to live a more environmentally-conscious lifestyle. The findings demonstrate how consumers plan to take more actions with sustainability in mind.
"Consumers are continuing to place an emphasis on sustainability when making purchasing decisions, showing that eco-friendly lifestyles are here to stay," said Colin Stewart, EVP, business intelligence at Acosta. "Retailers have an opportunity and responsibility to think through their environmental footprint and deliver value in ways that matter increasingly more to their customers."
Acosta's recent research demonstrates consumer preferences for sustainability initiatives among retailers and highlights a shift in purchase behaviors to support these efforts.
More than half of shoppers (56%) are very concerned about the future of the environment. This sentiment often drives what products they purchase. Seventy-five percent of Millennials say sustainability is very/somewhat important when buying consumer packaged goods. Four in 10 shoppers are more concerned about sustainability now than they were pre-COVID-19.
Shoppers are making the effort to live eco-friendlier lifestyles. Eighty percent have made it a priority to reduce, reuse and recycle products and packaging. Sixty-three percent are more likely to seek out food and beverage products that are minimally processed. Sixty percent are paying more attention to product packaging and its impact on the environment. Older shoppers (Boomers+) are more likely to recycle, while younger shoppers (Gen Z and Millennials) are more likely to modify their buying habits.
Eighty-five percent of those who buy green products will always or most likely buy them in the future. The top sustainable products purchased in the last year include fresh produce (60%), cleaning products (44%) and eggs (43%). Consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products, such as plant-based meat alternatives (81%), beauty and personal care items (80%), dairy and dairy alternatives (78%) and meat/poultry (74%).
Consumers agree retailers have a responsibility to the environment and communities in which they serve. Only about 1-in-3 shoppers are noticing sustainability efforts by retailers and manufacturers on a regular basis. Sixty-five percent would like to see companies putting more investment into sustainability.
The Acosta research comes at a time when demand for goods has skyrocketed since the pandemic began. E-commerce sales jumped nearly 32% in 2020 compared to the prior year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. So far this year, online sales are on track to outpace that record. Previous studies have shown that e-commerce produces fewer carbon dioxide emissions than traditional brick-and-mortar retail.
Acosta produced its Sustainability Impact on Purchase Behavior report from consumer online surveys conducted in October 2021.