Some US Consumers Are Socially Engaged but Not Changing Their Purchase Behavior

February 2, 2023

A recent survey [download page] by Ipsos has found that a sizable share of consumers in the US are socially conscious when it comes to their purchasing and investment decisions. The survey, which was conducted in 32 countries, found that US consumers are more apt to take environmental, social or ethical concerns into account when making purchases than when making investments.

The study also revealed that consumers who are taking action on social issues tend to be younger. For example, 43% of Gen Zers in the US have made or changed a purchase based on environment, social, or ethical concerns, compared to 30% of Boomers. The gap is even more pronounced when it comes to socially conscious investing, at 36% and 11%, respectively. This is interesting given other research indicating that Gen Z are the least trusting about brands’ sustainability claims.

Meanwhile, across generations, men appear to be more active socially conscious purchasers and investors than women. Socially conscious purchasing tends to be driven more by ethical concerns than by environmental concerns, per the report.

The survey also highlighted the importance of understanding the “say-do gap” when it comes to socially conscious purchasing and investing. The “say-do gap” refers to the difference between what consumers say they will do and what they actually do when it comes to socially conscious purchasing and investing. The study found that while many consumers are socially engaged (such as by writing online content, giving time/money to a charity, cause, or protest), fewer will change their purchasing or investing behavior as a result. For example, while 62% are engaged in socially-conscious issues, 25% have not acted with their purchases or investments.

This may be due to cost, which is considered the number one barrier to living sustainably in the US.

About the Data: The results are based on an online survey conducted between August 26 and September 9, 2022. The sample consists of approximately 1,000 individuals in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, mainland China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the U.S., and 500 individuals in the remaining countries.


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