Consumers say sustainability should be standard: Monash

Ninety-two per cent of consumers believe sustainable business practices should be standard, and not the exception, and more than half believe it’s important that products are made from recycled materials, according to new research from Monash Business School.

These statistics reveal a significant shift in the way consumers choose to purchase goods, being more likely to buy from a brand or retailer that aligns with their own, personal values.

According to Monash Business School’s Australian consumer and retail studies unit lead researcher Dr Eloise Zoppos, consumers are finding less joy in excessive spending.

“The modern shopper is constantly searching for meaning, not only in how they live, but also how they consume,” Dr Zoppos said.

“Price and convenience aren’t the only purchase for drivers anymore; consumers want to buy ethically, with global impact being front-of-mind.”

This change in purchase behaviour comes with the added shift that these consumers are often willing to spend more on such sustainable products – with two-thirds willing to spend purchase more expensive goods if it is from a sustainable or socially conscious brand. In millennials, this figure rises to 73 per cent. 

Monash’s findings echo recent Salesforce research, which found that 77 per cent of consumers believe a company’s ethics are more important now than they were a year ago. 

“Collective concern over an array of societal issues has prompted them to examine what companies stand for,” Salesforce Asia-Pacific cloud specialist Jo Gaines said. 

“Many customers now actively seek to buy from philanthropic and environmentally sustainable companies, and this phenomenon is likely to grow as customers become increasingly informed and conscientious about their buying decisions.”

Dr. Zoppos added that in order for retailers to remain relevant they need to become an ally to these consumers by providing them with more than just a memorable or personalised in-store experience. 

“In the past two years there’s been an 11 per cent increase in ethical cosmetics sales. This is primarily driven by millennials who are demanding more ethical products from the beauty industry,” Dr. Zoppos said.

“There’s also been a decline in the sale of leather shoes and, in the same period, a 60 per cent increase in the number of women buying second-hand clothing. This behaviour has been fed by concern about the environmental impact of ‘fast fashion’.”

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