Consumers worldwide are willing to pay more for products with a lower environmental impact as they express increasing concerns about climate change and environmental sustainability. Yet many still find sustainable consumption too expensive and focus on different aspects of product sustainability than the companies that produce the products. This is evident from a new study by the global management consultancy Bain & Company.
For the research, Bain surveyed more than 23,000 consumers worldwide on a wide range of sustainability issues, including their concerns and purchasing behavior, and also conducted collaborative analysis and ethnographic research, speaking directly to hundreds of consumers.
The research shows that there is broad and growing interest in sustainability issues among consumers, with almost two-thirds (64%) of respondents reporting they are “very or extremely” concerned about environmental sustainability, and 60% saying their concerns about the climate change have increased over time. past two years.
Although the majority of consumers in almost every market expressed concern about environmental sustainability, consumers in fast-growing markets appeared more concerned than those in developed countries, for example, 85% in India, 81% in Brazil and 73% in China. , who say they are very or extremely concerned, compared to 53% in the US, 54% in Germany and 56% in the UK.
The report appeared to dispel prevailing perceptions of varying levels of sustainability perceptions among demographic groups, finding, for example, that concerns about climate change did not differ significantly by age, with 68% of Boomers and 69% of Generation or extremely concerned about the environment, compared to 74% of millennials and 72% of Generation Z. Furthermore, while 85% of self-identified American liberals reported high concerns about climate change, compared to only 39% of conservatives, the latter group relatively higher ones are more concerned than their liberal counterparts when it comes to environmental issues such as water, biodiversity loss and air pollution.
As environmental concerns grow, the report finds significant interest among consumers to purchase sustainable products, with 50% reporting that sustainability is one of their top 4 purchasing criteria, and respondents globally reporting that they would pay an average of 12% premium for minimal impact on the environment. . The report indicated that this willingness broadly reflected concerns, with consumers in faster growing markets accepting higher premiums, such as 20% in India, 16% in Brazil and 15% in China, compared to 11% in the US and 9% in Germany. and 8% in Great Britain.
However, despite the willingness to pay more for sustainable products, the report finds a significant gap in consumers’ ability to do so, with companies charging an average 28% premium for more sustainable products, well above the level consumers were willing to pay. causing almost half of consumers in developed markets and over a third of consumers in fast-growing markets to report that sustainable living is too expensive.
An additional factor impacting consumers’ ability to purchase more sustainable products that emerged from the report was the inability to distinguish which products are more sustainable, despite their reliance on labels and certifications. For example, when asked to determine which of two products generated higher CO2 emissions, the study found that consumers could not make the right choice about 75% of the time.
The research also found that there is a disconnect between definitions and criteria for sustainability between consumers and companies, finding that while most companies focus on the way products are made, such as the sustainability of ingredients and production methods, approximately half of consumers instead focus on how the products are used. in their sustainability considerations, looking at aspects such as reusability of products, sustainability and waste minimization.
click here to access the study.