16th Annual Consumer Insights & Trends Report - 2018 State of Sustainability in America
This report is the sixteenth annual U.S. report NMI has published on the state of the sustainability market. It examines consumer attitudes and behaviors toward sustainable living and the sustainable marketplace as a whole.
Over the past 16 years, a significant marketplace shift has occurred. This research uncovers insights into how today’s consumer integrates eco-friendliness into their daily life and reveals their motivations and the challenges they encounter in their pursuit to become increasingly aligned with a more sustainable lifestyle.
Steve French, NMI Managing Partner shares that the intent of this report is to provide a longitudinal understanding of how consumers’ attitudes affect behavior and translate into product and service usage. Even further, its aim is to provide insights regarding what drives this market, how to communicate with consumers and help identify the strategic opportunities in this ever-widening industry. It is this knowledge and insight that provide the basis for identifying and uncovering opportunities in the LOHAS marketplace.
This report provides a comprehensive overview of where the current sustainable marketplace stands, in addition to...
- how consumers interact in the green marketplace
- the return on investment of companies' sustainability initiative
- how segments within society view sustainability differently and what motivates this differentiation
- consumer insights regarding packaging and waste
- the impact of Millennials
- opportunities for future growth
Today’s notion of sustainability marks a cultural shift as it continues to gain groundswell in America. All organizations, therefore, will need to realize that sustainability is not just a desired activity but a necessary strategy.
Even with all the recent mass media attention to global warming, specific consumer segments in the population exhibit various shades of green that are led by the LOHAS segment, who is integral in driving sustainability to the mainstream. Almost all products and services need to consider consumer motivations regarding eco-friendliness; however, sustainability affects consumers at varying levels, so targeting and communications is more vital than ever.
Sustainability is also causing ‘disruptive innovation’ across many industries, creating new markets above and beyond existing ones such as ‘car sharing’ replacing car ownership. Such disruption may actually capture a new or underserved consumer in some cases and further the concept of conscious consumption.
Demand for product transparency is clearly on the rise, and brands that fulfill this demand by providing comprehensive information from sourcing, manufacturing and social cause efforts are positioned to gain favor.
Even with the mainstreaming, many consumers display qualities of being overwhelmed and continue to need personal empowerment. While consumers say they want proof, most do not recognize seals and certifying organizations, or understand what they mean. This, in turn, makes some consumers skeptical of whom and what they can trust.
Consumers are also more interested than ever in aligning their personal values with the brands they buy, raising the bar for companies to clearly define and articulate their values. If consumers are aware that companies are mindful of their impact on society and the environment, it positively impacts their trial and repeat purchasing behavior and lessens price sensitivity.
Like every generation that came before, Millennials come with their own set of characteristics that make them unique. They demand genuineness and transparency, value social networking, are highly influential and even expect to participate in product development so that companies ‘do it right’. Their sheer size alone coupled with their unique qualities are causing a whole realignment of how business is conducted. Companies need to stay attuned as no company can afford to ignore their enormous purchasing power.
The sourcing and ‘end life’ of packaging will become significantly more relevant as the product life cycle and waste impact are increasingly becoming part of consumers’ purchase decisions. Product packaging, especially plastic, will continue to move toward that which is compostable or bio-based so it can assimilate back into the supply chain.
One entry point to environmentalism may be through “tangible” or visual issues such as litter or blight; if so, messaging about the connection between visible issues and non-visible issues, such as global warming, may ignite continued environmental engagement.
Consumers’ tolerance for chemicals is waning as the perceived link between chemicals and disease is increasing in consumers minds. Fewer additives, fewer negatives, fewer chemicals and less artificiality will drive the ‘clean label’ platform whose appeal is broadening across America.
Technology and services to help consumers monitor energy consumption, manage food waste, among others, will continue to innovate putting more control into consumers’ hands.
Eco-consciousness will continue to deepen as consumers find it easier and more important to take action. Organizations that facilitate that behavior will be rewarded by consumers who seek to align their purchases with their personal values, morals, ethics and belief systems