Sustainable Consumption in the U.S. 2021 Report

Consumer Insights report

Sustainable Consumption in the U.S. 2021 Report

This report provides vivid insights into attitudes, consumer behavior and brand perception with regard to sustainability in the categories of food & beverages, beauty & personal care, and fashion. It is based on the representative survey "Sustainable Consumption 2021" and covers sustainable eCommerce as well as drivers and barriers of sustainable consumption. A total of 1,028 people from the United States aged 16 and over were surveyed for the study.

Topics include:

  • Status of sustainability
  • Food and beverages
  • Beauty and personal care
  • Fashion
  • eCommerce

Table of contents

Sustainability will remain an important issue according to the majority, but some are skeptical
Only 19% of consumers polled think that sustainability is a buzzword and will lose importance in the future. Nevertheless, caution is required when it comes to credibility: one in four say that brands use sustainability claims to sell products at a higher markup. This skepticism is reflected in the purchase criteria: “sustainability/eco-friendliness” barely makes it into the Top 10 in any of the polled categories. In food & beverages, 17% name sustainability as an important factor of purchase decisions. In beauty & personal care, as well as in fashion, it is named by 16% of consumers. Price remains the most important criterion across all categories.

Brands with a negative sustainability policy risk punishment
Consumers may avoid or even boycott brands and stores with poor sustainability practices. For example, 23% say they have stopped buying a certain brand in the beauty & personal care sector for lack of sustainability. In particular, younger consumers are willing to go even further: 20% of 16-to-29-year-olds stated they were boycotting a fashion brand or store due to insufficient sustainability policies.

Good prospects for sustainable eCommerce
Approximately 60% of online shoppers have not returned a single package in the past year. In addition, 60% say they would be willing to pay more for delivery if CO2-neutral shipping was guaranteed in return. Sustainable aspects indeed play a role in eCommerce: 25% view reduced packaging waste and environmentally friendly shipping as important delivery criteria. However, free, fast, and safe shipping is far higher up the priority list.

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