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Does sustainability still matter in a rough economy? It matters even more to consumers now—but they don’t know who to trust

by | May 26, 2023 | Public Relations

We know that sustainability matters to both businesses and consumers, but has it become less important in today’s economy? New research from convenience retail and petroleum wholesale solutions provider PDI Technologies suggests that, for consumers, it matters even more when it comes to which companies they choose to do business with. The research reveals that despite trying times, more than two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) are willing to pay more for environmentally sustainable products compared to competitors that are not sustainable—but it’s

The findings from the firm’s third Business of Sustainability Index (BOSI), with survey partner Directions Research, demonstrate the steady growth in demand for sustainability across the U.S., compared to 64 percent and 66 percent of Americans saying they would pay more for sustainable products in BOSI 2021 and BOSI 2022, respectively.

Does sustainability still matter in a rough economy? It matters even more to consumers now—but they don’t know who to trust

Young people are especially open to paying more for sustainable products

More than three-quarters (77 percent) of Gen Z and 72 percent of Millennials say they would do so. Parents were also prepared to open their wallets for sustainability, with 76 percent noting they would pay more.

When asked about purchasing gasoline specifically, 64 percent of Americans said they would pay more at the pump if the carbon emissions were offset with sustainability efforts, such as planting trees. That number was even higher for Gen Z (76 percent), Millennials (67 percent), and parents (74 percent).

“Over the past three years, BOSI has measured Americans’ accelerating demand for sustainability to help companies better understand how to meet those evolving needs,” said Brandon Logsdon, president of Consumer Engagement at PDI Technologies, in a news release. “The data is clear: Consumers overwhelmingly want sustainable products and are willing to pay more for them. Companies that understand sustainability as a strategic business asset are well positioned to gain market share and grow faster than their competitors.”

Does sustainability still matter in a rough economy? It matters even more to consumers now—but they don’t know who to trust

Americans report difficulty finding—and trusting—sustainable offerings

While 79 percent of Americans say they want to buy from brands that are environmentally friendly, most don’t know how to identify these companies. This is overwhelmingly true for Gen Z (91 percent), Millennials (80 percent), and parents (85 percent).

There is also a growing dissatisfaction with how companies are approaching sustainability

Nearly half (45 percent) of consumers say they believe American corporations are doing a poor job when it comes to reducing their carbon footprint and the footprint of the products or services they sell, an increase from 41 percent in BOSI 2022. Noticeably, 37 percent of Gen Z wants corporate profits to support environmental organizations, a nine-point increase over all respondents (28 percent).

Does sustainability still matter in a rough economy? It matters even more to consumers now—but they don’t know who to trust

“Consumers want sustainability but struggle to find it. Even when they do, they often don’t trust the environmental claims companies make. Leveraging internal tools and third-party accreditation to help measure, track, and communicate progress will continue to differentiate the sustainability gains of their products, services, and overall enterprises,” Logsdon continued.

Read the full BOSI report online.

This Xcelerant survey was conducted online by Directions Research, independently recognized as one of the nation’s leading business decision insight firms. The survey was fielded from March 30 to March 31, 2023, among a demographically balanced nationally representative sample of 1,038 U.S. adults 18 years of age and older. To ensure consistent and accurate representation of the U.S. general population 18 years of age and older, data are weighted to match the U.S. Census data by the following variables: sex, age, geographic region, race/ethnicity, and education. Weighting factors for each respondent are developed through a custom algorithm.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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