The ‘last mile’ of consumer sustainability behavior

These days, it’s hard to argue that sustainability is a niche consumer interest. A vast majority of consumers worldwide believe we need to consume less, according to research by GlobeScan.

More to the point, 57 percent of consumers in that survey were willing to pay more for sustainable products. But only about a quarter of them actually made any sustainable changes to their lifestyle or consumption. So what gives?

“There’s this really marked intention-action gap when we’re asking people to change their behaviors to be more sustainable,” said Katherine White, professor of marketing and behavioral science at the University of British Columbia.

White shared her research on sustainable consumption during GreenBiz 21. She was among industry leaders from Amazon and Procter & Gamble, as well as nonprofit executives, who shared insights on the trends in sustainable consumption. Here are three takeaways from the session:

Attitude has shifted, but behavior lags

Across the board, indicators for consumer interest in sustainable products are up, according to the GlobeScan survey. The 2020 results, for example, showed that 73 percent of consumers wanted to reduce the impact they have on the environment by a large amount, up almost 10 percentage points from the year prior.

During the session, Chris Coulter, CEO of GlobeScan, described it as a “remarkable shift” in consumer attitude that bodes well for the sustainable products market. But he was quick to underline the shortcomings of that progress. Read more…

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