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Sustainability supersedes price and convenience in purchasing priorities: Where consumers stand on eco-shopping and brand credibility

by | Mar 28, 2024 | Media Moves, Public Relations

Even in an unstable economy, consumers overwhelmingly say they would fork over a few more dollars for products from brands and retailers that have a proven track record on sustainability support and action. New research from digital supply chain transformation firm Blue Yonder, which polled U.S.-based respondents on their habits and preferences for environmentally-friendly shopping, affirms that sustainability remains a top priority for consumers, with 78 percent reporting that sustainability concerns are very or somewhat important to them when choosing to buy a product or shop at a retailer.

sustainability claims

But consumers’ enthusiasm for sustainability isn’t superficial—they tend to think critically about brands’ eco-claims. Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents said they can only “sometimes” trust a brand’s sustainability claims, depending on its message, brand reputation and history. More than one-third (35 percent) of respondents said they do not trust brands’ claims, citing the need for their own additional research (21 percent) and the belief that brands tout sustainability regardless of whether it aligns with their actions (14 percent).

sustainability claims

“We’re encouraged to see that the majority of consumers take sustainability into account when making purchasing decisions,” said Saskia van Gendt, chief sustainability officer at Blue Yonder, in a news release. “It’s especially promising that so many respondents are willing to spend more for sustainable products, given that price concerns, exacerbated by the ongoing challenge of inflation, have marked conversations around consumer behavior over the last year. Their willingness to spend more should send a clear message to brands and retailers that investing in sustainable solutions and practices is worthwhile, not only for the planet but also for maintaining consumer loyalty and trust.”

Sustainability remains a key priority for consumers, especially Gen Z and millennials

Survey results also showed that consumers not only have a continued interest in sustainable shopping habits, but also they are willing to pay more and opt for greener shipping options.

A healthy majority (70 percent) of consumers indicated that they have shopped at a retailer promoting their products as sustainable at least once or more in the past six months, which closely matches the 74 percent who reported doing so in 2022 and 2023. Interest in sustainability is also growing at a steady pace: 47 percent of consumers reported that their interest in shopping sustainably has greatly or slightly increased in the last year. That interest is underscored by consumers’ willingness to spend more for sustainable products, with 40 percent of respondents saying they would pay up to an additional 5 percent, and 25 percent saying they would pay an additional 10 percent or more.

sustainability claims

An impressive 83 percent of consumers reported that they are willing to delay deliveries if an incentive is given to do so. However, this flexibility has its limits—only 23 percent of respondents said they were willing to delay a delivery by a week or more. Nearly half (47 percent) of consumers also said they would be likely or very likely to pay more for greener shipping options such as lower carbon footprint delivery and sustainable packaging. Sentiments toward sustainable delivery differ slightly by generation. Millennials (85 percent) are the most likely to delay product delivery, followed by Gen Z (79 percent), Gen X (76 percent) and Baby Boomers (67 percent). More broadly, Gen Z and Millennials are most concerned with sustainability, with 85 percent and 84 percent, respectively, reporting that sustainability considerations are important to them.

Consumers prefer certain products, methods for prioritizing sustainability

The products consumers eat and bring into their homes are top of mind when it comes to sustainability. Over half of consumers reported that they incorporated sustainable food products (60 percent) and household products (55 percent) into their shopping habits in the past year. Respondents are also cognizant of the methods brands use to improve sustainability: 61 percent of consumers said reducing food or inventory waste was the most important environmental practice a retailer or brand should adopt. An equal number (61 percent) said using recycled content or recycled packaging.

“Consumers are looking closely at exactly how brands are executing on their sustainability goals,” said van Gendt. “With more than one-third (35 percent) of respondents reporting that they don’t trust brands’ sustainability claims, it’s more important than ever for companies to have full visibility into their supply chain operations so they can back up their sustainability claims with tangible data to strengthen consumer trust.”

sustainability claims

Other key findings:

Consumers value sustainability from delivery companies

Consumers are looking at sustainability throughout the entire end-to-end supply chain, including last-mile delivery. More than half (59 percent) of respondents reported increased purchasing sentiment toward online shopping with delivery companies who invest in electric trucking to deliver orders.

Electric vehicles

Consumers’ sustainable mindsets are extending to their car shopping habits as well, which is important as personalization continues to become a trend in auto manufacturing. When it comes to electric vehicles, 40 percent of respondents would be likely or very likely to consider purchasing one. Of those who would purchase, 55 percent were Millennials, 48 percent Gen Z, 36 percent Gen X, and 20 percent Boomers. The top concerns shared by respondents around owning an electric vehicle include range anxiety, i.e., fear of running out of battery charge (62 percent), limited charging infrastructure (58 percent), and the initial cost of the vehicle (58 percent). The top benefits shared by respondents influencing consumers’ interest in EVs include cost savings on fuel (55 percent), range on a single charge (46 percent), government incentives (40 percent), and environmental impact (40 percent).

sustainability claims

Blue Yonder collected responses between Feb. 21-22, 2024, from more than 1,000 U.S.-based consumers, 18 years and older, via a third-party provider for this Consumer Sustainability Survey. Respondents were broken down by the following age groups: 18-28, 29-43, 44-58, and 59-plus.

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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