The Rise of the Sustainable Consumer
Consumers and retailers are not on the same page when it comes to sustainable shopping. This is the key takeaway from a recent report produced by First Insight and the Baker Retailing Center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Consumers and senior retail executives were surveyed in tandem to compare perceptions and preferences for sustainable products, shopping formats, and the influences driving sustainable purchase decisions.
The survey found that a significant disconnect between senior retail leaders and consumers exists when it comes to sustainability. Not surprisingly, the sustainability imperative has been driven primarily by the consumer. A few forward-thinking retailers such as DFS, IKEA and Burrow have been pioneers in this field and should get the credit they deserve for giving conscious consumerism a bigger platform. Yet it’s the consumer — specifically the Gen Z consumer —that has elevated the sustainability conversation.
An additional recent survey of over 1,000 US adults revealed striking evidence that two-thirds (66%) are willing to pay more for sustainable products, despite a growing gap in consumer trust of corporations. Despite the pressure of high inflation — which has skyrocketed in the US since 2020 (from 1.4% to currently 8.5%) — 66% of US consumers and 80% of young US adults (ages 18-34) surveyed are willing to pay more for sustainable products versus less sustainable competitors, according to the second Business of Sustainability Index by GreenPrint, a PDI company.
Consumers are prioritising sustainability
Last year, the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) found that 93% of global respondents said the pandemic had influenced their views on sustainability. Over the past year, environmental issues have become even more important. A recent IBM February 2022 survey of 16,000 global consumers found that more than half (51%) of respondents say environmental sustainability is more important to them today than it was 12 months ago. IBM also found that consumers’ actions are starting to match their intent.
In 2021, IBM also found that half of consumers said they were willing to pay a premium for a sustainable brand or sustainable products. And this year, 49% of consumers say they’ve paid a premium — an average of 59% more — for products branded as sustainable or socially responsible in the last 12 months.
How business leaders can become stewards of change
While no single nation — let alone a single organisation — can reverse the tide, the decisions executives make can have a ripple effect across the global economy. In fact, a recent study by the World Economic Forum found that just 8 supply chains account for 50% of all global carbon emissions. This opportunity to make a positive impact isn’t lost on business leaders. Recent IBV research found that almost 4 in 10 (39%) executives said that environmental sustainability is a top priority for them today, and more than half (53%) said it will be a top priority in 3 years. However, while 86% of organizations have a sustainability strategy in place, just over 1 in 3 (35%) have acted on that strategy.
What can help business leaders overcome this inertia? It all starts with a mindset shift.
What does this mean for Sourcebynet?
Based on the above, this clearly means that sustainable products and practices need to be a priority for Sourcebynet. To support our sustainability journey, Sourcebynet has created a policy, under the ethos Design 4 Life, which is integral to our strategic approach. Design 4 Life has an objective that is focused on product and packaging that will drive to deliver product that will meet the needs of sustainably conscious customers.
Sourcebynet has these long-term sustainability commitments to ensure we can create a positive impact. This policy focuses on twelve key objectives set to impact Sourcebynet and our entire network – offices, employees, partners, vendors, and primary customers. Each objective has been fully discussed with key stakeholders across the company, making them relevant, achievable and above all helping make a difference to becoming Planet Friendly. With over 20 years dedication, trust, and experience, Sourcebynet knows exactly what their customers want. There is a plethora of reasons why the best and most discerning furniture retailers work with Sourcebynet, which cannot be summarised in just a simple sentence.
Facts about Sustainability
- Today, nearly 90% of Gen X consumers said that they would be willing to spend an extra 10% or more for sustainable products, compared to just over 34% two years ago
- Almost 100% of retailers surveyed believe that consumers rank brand name higher than product sustainability, when, in fact, a much lower percentage – 56% – of consumers rank brand name as somewhat or very important.
- Only one in four consumers see labelling a product as responsibly sourced or manufactured as an indication that the product is sustainable, and only one in five rate labelling as very important when considering a purchase.