Sustainability has become more important to many consumers, with the majority of all consumers across generations saying they expect retailers and brands to become more sustainable. This is according to a survey [download page] by First Insight of more than 1,000 US consumers.
Although sustainability is important to consumers, what it means to individuals varies somewhat by age group. For the largest portion of Millennials (46%), Gen X (48%) and Baby Boomers (44%), sustainability means products made from recycled, sustainable and naturally harvested fibers and materials, while the largest portion of Gen Z (48%) believe that sustainability means sustainable manufacturing.
Despite these differences in interpretation of the term, sustainability is particularly important to Gen Z consumers when deciding on what products they purchase. Three-quarters of Gen Z rate sustainability important during this process, compared to about half (49%) who consider the brand name of the product important.
Nevertheless, it appears that the preference to purchase sustainable brands has decreased among Gen Z over the past couple of years. In 2019, some 62% of Gen Z said they preferred to buy from sustainable brands, but by 2021, that percentage dropped to 55%. The opposite can be said about Gen X, with about two-thirds (67%) of consumers in this age group now preferring to buy from sustainable brands compared to 54% who said the same in 2019.
Quality ranks high among younger age groups as the reason why they choose to shop for sustainable brands, while the largest share of Baby Boomers cite environmental concerns as the reason why they shop for sustainable brands. On the other hand, pricing is one of the least cited reasons for shopping for sustainable brands across all age groups. However, a growing share of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products, with 68% of all respondents saying they are willing to do so in 2021, compared to 58% who said the same in 2019.
Beyond the products themselves, respondents also show a growing desire for sustainable packaging. In 2021, there was a significant increase in the percentage of Gen Z (+35%), Millennials (+30%), Gen X (+44%) and Baby Boomers (+34%) who feel that sustainable packaging is important compared to 2019.
The full report can be found here.
About the Data: Findings for 2021 are based on a July survey of more than 1,000 US respondents.