There’s No Ignoring It – Why It’s Time to Satisfy the Sustainable Consumer

Jul 9, 2021

Sustainability. A concept that we have focused on constantly for the past decade. We’ve consistently seen news stories on carbon emissions or environmental concerns caused by human intervention in nature. We’ve planted trees on Earth Day, participated in beach cleanups for World Oceans Day, and reduced, reused, and recycled until our fingers bled. But all of these solutions focus on cleaning up the back end of the problem. And while it’s important to clean the back end, consumers have also begun taking notice of the front end. They’re beginning to make more sustainable purchasing decisions and placing favor with those businesses and organizations that are making greater strides in sustainability than others. With consumers actively changing their purchasing behavior to reflect more sustainable choices, businesses need to start recognizing this change in consumer behavior and make changes to fit within a new and growing market.

79% of consumers say they are changing their purchasing habits to reflect more sustainable behaviors.1 That means that 80% of consumers are looking to protect the planet with the purchases that they make, and are becoming more educated on what the longer-term footprint of their purchases is. Many cite 3 major reasons for making these changes: 

  1. They want to make the world a better place for future generations.1 Some reports predict that there will be more trash in the oceans than fish by the year 2050. Is that the planet we want to leave our children? 
  2. 72% of consumers are concerned with their environmental footprint.1 This shows how consumers have evolved and learned to understand the importance of sustainability and making sustainable choices. 
  3. 52% of consumers say they associate a positive emotional reaction with making sustainable purchasing decisions.1 Making sustainable choices not only benefits the planet, but they seem to benefit our emotional well-being as well. Knowing we have made a choice that is bigger than ourselves and makes us feel good makes us more likely to make the same choice again.

So we’ve seen clear proof that consumers are making more sustainable purchasing decisions. But are businesses recognizing this change and moving to change with their consumers? Shockingly, only 36% of businesses acknowledge the fact that consumer behavior is changing to reflect more sustainable choices.1 When businesses don’t recognize changes in their consumers’ purchasing choices, they put up to 6% of their revenue at risk.1 This disconnect between consumers and the businesses that serve them opens the door for smaller, more sustainable companies that are will to recognize this change. Studies show that companies with higher ESG (environmental, social, governance) scores outperform other companies in their sector.2 This proves that implementing sustainable practices and sustainability goals can make a huge difference in your company’s success. When implementing sustainability goals, 77% of businesses saw an increase in customer loyalty, and 63% saw an uptick in revenue.1 The truth of the matter is clear: consumers are craving sustainability and businesses that will satisfy that craving will be more successful than those who won’t.

Sustainability will continue to e a key player in the consumerism industry as 2021 continues into 2022. Consumers will continue to see the benefits of making sustainable purchases and supporting organizations that have sustainability goals and use sustainable practices. Businesses need to get on board with their consumers and move forward to make more sustainable choices, or they will be putting anywhere from 25%-70% of their revenue at risk from sustainability-related problems, like changes in legislation or consumer backlash.2 The more businesses evolve with consumers, the more successful they will be in the sustainable future.   


1 Jacobs, K., Robey, J., van Beaumont, K., Lago, C., Rietra, M., Hewett, S., Buvat, J., Manchanda, N., Cherian, S., & B, A. (2020). Consumer Products and Retail – How sustainability is fundamentally changing consumer preferences. Capgemini Research Institute.

2 Bonini, S., & Swartz, S. (2014). Profits with a purpose: How organizing for sustainability can benefit the bottom line. McKinsey & Company.

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