Sustainable Consumption in the UK 2021 Report

Consumer Insights report

Sustainable Consumption in the UK 2021 Report

This report provides valuable 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 1,044 people from the United Kingdom 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 is seen as a decision-forming purchase criterion and as a topic that is meant to stay
Only a 14% minority thinks that sustainability is a buzzword and will lose importance in the future. Nevertheless, caution is required in terms of credibility: one out of five states that sustainability claims are exploited by brands for the benefit of selling products at a higher price. This scepticism 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, in beauty & personal care, as well as in fashion around one in five consumers state sustainability as an important factor for purchase decisions (19%, 20%, 18%). 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 shops with poor sustainability practices. For example, 19% say they have stopped buying a certain brand in the food & beverages sector due to a lack of sustainability. Especially younger consumers are willing to go even further: 20% of 16-29-year-olds stated that they were boycotting a fashion brand or shop due to insufficient sustainability policies.

Compared to other categories, fashion shops have lower than average sustainability ratings
When comparing all categories, the fashion sector is seen as one of the least sustainable ones (average rate of 23%). Nevertheless, several fashion shops achieve above average scores. M&S is by far the most popular fashion brand with the best sustainability image among consumers. John Lewis and H&M also rank higher than average.

Good prospects for sustainable eCommerce
More than half of all online shoppers have not returned a single package in the past year. In addition, over 60% say they would be willing to pay more for delivery if CO2-neutral shipping was guaranteed in return. Sustainable aspects certainly play a role in eCommerce: 38% indicate minimal packaging waste as an important delivery criterion. However, free, fast and safe shipping and return shipping are far higher up the priority list.

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