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The Conference Group has published the results of a survey conducted to understand factors discouraging consumers from buying brands with sustainability-oriented practices.

More than 30,000 consumers across 60 countries surveyed say:

The price premium associated with sustainable products and communications challenges are the key factors pushing them not to buy sustainable products.

Consumers say brands are not optimising their communication hence customers are not aware, are confused and do not trust brands’ sustainability claims.

To address the two challenges hindering the market for sustainable products, The Conference Group urges companies to:

Innovate: By so doing, companies will be able to introduce new additional benefits that consumers value, which can reduce shoppers' sensitivity to price.

Collaborate: This helps the industry to develop various cost-efficiency strategies to make sustainable products more affordable.

Communicate and validate: To strengthen awareness and trust, companies can seek certification from independent organisations about their environmental and social practices.

Issues which consumers associate with sustainable products include:

Environmental issues lead: Environment, recycling and alternative sources of energy are the top associations followed by fair price and fair labor conditions.

While environmental associations lead at the global level, there is significant geographic variation in how consumers understand sustainability.

  • North America consumers there mostly associate sustainability with recycling.
  • Consumers in Europe and the Middle East & Africa mostly associate it with fair price.
  • Latin America consumers mostly associate it with alternative sources of energy.
  • Asia-Pacific consumers associate it with the environment.

Institutions and sectors that consumers think should care most about sustainability include:

  • Government falls short of expectations: At a global level, consumers believe governments – ahead of tech companies and other policy and business organizations – should care the most about sustainability. However, governments aren't living up to those expectations: They rank third in consumers' perception of performance regarding sustainability.
  • Highest marks for the tech sector and the United Nations: Globally, consumers perceive these institutions as doing the best on sustainability.

Tech companies, utility providers, financial institutions, home appliance makers, retailers, and hotels exceed consumers' expectations regarding their sustainability efforts relative to their expectations for other sectors.

Click here for more information about the study.