54% of consumers indicate they are actively moving to more sustainable brands/products and are prepared to back this up with additional spend
London (6 Apr. 2022) — L.E.K. Consulting, the global strategy consultancy that has guided business leaders over the last four decades, announces the summary findings of The L.E.K. Consulting Consumer Sustainability Survey completed in December 2021. The Survey delves deep into consumers’ Sustainability attitudes both in their living and spending habits focusing on how consumers’ attitudes toward Sustainability translate to lifestyle choices, purchase behaviours, willingness to pay and sector-specific purchasing decisions. The survey was carried out in three specific markets — the USA, the UK and Australia. The L.E.K. Sustainability Centre of Excellence intends to conduct similar research on a recurring basis (and to cover additional geographies) to track the development of these themes over time.
Notable findings of the L.E.K. study revealed:
Consumer concern — The study found over the past three years, a large increase in the percentage of consumers who claim they care somewhat or a lot about Sustainability — up 18ppt rising from 50% to 68%.
Switching to sustainable brands — 54% of consumers say they have already switched away from certain brands/products for Sustainability reasons and now spend a quarter of their household budget on (more) sustainable products.
Willingness to pay more — A significant percentage of consumers (51%) state they are willing to pay more for sustainable products, especially pet products, beauty and household basics.
Knowledge claims and sources of information — Few would say they are experts on Sustainability (only 9%), but many (57%) are actively trying to learn more; this is reflected in how consumers learn about and assess Sustainability: they reference multiple sources (~4 on avg.) to identify claims of Sustainability.
Informatory role of packaging — Regarding sources of information in the above, packaging design/claims are currently the most important cue of Sustainability to consumers, but younger consumers are ‘savvier’ and reference many more sources, indicating that consumers will become savvier over time and clever packaging alone is unlikely to suffice in the future.
Travel — The survey found a high proportion of consumers are looking to moderate their daily travel with commuter patterns showing a preference for more sustainable travel (with increased use of public transport or cycling and high stated intent to purchase an electric vehicle in the next 3-5 years) and a meaningful proportion of consumers actively looking to reduce air travel, both for business and personal leisure trips.
Renewable energy home plans and sustainable home improvements — The study confirms a strong interest in renewable energy sources finding that over 30% of consumers have switched to renewable energy home plans. Sustainable home improvements are also growing in popularity (e.g., energy efficient lightbulbs) with investment decisions primarily influenced by rational consideration of the economic payback.
Mark Boyd-Boland, Partner of L.E.K. Consulting in London said,
“The importance and focus on Sustainability is increasing, as much in the minds of consumers as anywhere else. It presents significant opportunities for businesses, both to satisfy changing consumer behaviours and to spur innovation. We believe it is critical for companies to understand consumers’ evolving attitudes about Sustainability. Doing that — and responding effectively — will ultimately dictate the success or failure of businesses and brands.”
Lauren DeVestern, Partner of L.E.K. in Boston added,
“Our research reveals important signals to businesses willing to adapt and meet the Sustainability challenges that lie ahead. The Sustainability sands are shifting, meaning company boards need to have their strategy in place sooner rather than later and be prepared to invest the capex over the short term to ensure the long-term benefits that should accrue. We will welcome sharing and discussing with a broad range of businesses the more detailed findings in the study we have just completed.
“We will be tracking evolving consumer preferences and patterns as they emerge; the L.E.K. Sustainability Centre of Excellence intends to conduct similar research on a recurring basis — and to cover additional geographies — to track the development of these themes over time.”
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About L.E.K. Consulting Consumer Sustainability Survey
L.E.K.’s global Sustainability Centre of Excellence conducted a consumer research programme focused on Sustainability themes, which it completed in December 2021.
The survey investigated consumers’ Sustainability attitudes both in their living and spending habits focusing on how consumers’ attitudes toward Sustainability translate to lifestyle choices, purchase behaviours, willingness to pay and sector-specific purchasing decisions. In all 2,726 consumers were surveyed across the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia with similar weightings of respondents in each region. The sample in each market was nationally representative across demographics, such as age, income and gender.
L.E.K.’s proprietary segmentation identified 4 distinct consumer archetypes; notably, the first two groups below — those invested in living and spending more sustainably — now number over 50% of all consumers:
Advocates: reinforce strong sustainable attitudes, knowledge and behaviours with high spend and willingness to pay for ‘green’ products
Learners: have made the largest shift toward Sustainability, with increasing levels of sustainable behaviours, spend and willingness to pay
Talkers: say they care about Sustainability, but their actions, household spend and willingness to pay are not commensurate with their attitudes
Stragglers: do not prioritize Sustainability as a governing value in their lives, which is reflected in their low knowledge, spend and willingness to pay
About L.E.K. Consulting
We’re L.E.K. Consulting, a global strategy consultancy working with business leaders to seize competitive advantage and amplify growth. Our insights are catalysts that reshape the trajectory of our clients’ businesses, uncovering opportunities and empowering them to master their moments of truth. Since 1983, our worldwide practice — spanning the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe — has guided leaders across all industries, from global corporations to emerging entrepreneurial businesses and private equity investors. Looking for more? Visit www.lek.com.