Third Annual CGS Survey Reveals Sustainability Resurgence After Popularity Waned During the Pandemic
U.S. consumers are calling for brands to be more transparent and take measures into their own hands to be more eco-conscious
CGS, a global provider of business applications, enterprise learning and outsourcing services, announced the findings from its annual 2022 Retail and Sustainability Survey. While respondents believe brands should enact more sustainable actions, they are split on whether the government or brand should drive motivation for sustainable shopping.
Consumer interest in sustainable shopping has grown steadily over the past few years. In 2019, 70 percent of CGS survey respondents said that sustainability was at least “somewhat important” to them when making a purchase. However, the 2020 survey found only 51 percent of respondents considered sustainability “somewhat important” when shopping, likely due to the emerging COVID-19 pandemic. In the 2022 survey, interest resurfaced to pre-pandemic levels: 79 percent of consumers believe that sustainability is “somewhat important” to “very important” when purchasing apparel/footwear products.
“Our latest research shows that despite current world events and inflation, consumers are more willing than ever to shop sustainably,” said Paul Magel, President, Business Applications division, CGS. “To help consumers with their goal of shopping sustainable, brands must be more transparent and open around their sustainable business practices. Through our BlueCherry® software, brands can deliver on the promise of sustainability and transparency and help meet this increased demand for sustainable goods.”
To gauge consumers’ current sentiment around sustainable product and brand sustainability practices, CGS surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. individuals (ages 18-65+). Key findings include:
Interest in Sustainability Resurges After Initial Popularity Waned During the Pandemic
Americans are being more intentional about shopping sustainably. A majority of survey respondents (68 percent) would pay more for sustainable products. Despite inflation rates and global events, respondents are more in favor of paying more for sustainable apparel than in 2019, when only 47 percent would pay more, and in 2020 when only 56 percent of consumers would pay more. Almost a fourth of respondents (18 percent) would pay 25 percent more for sustainable products. Age is also a major factor in sustainable shopping. Two-thirds of Gen Z shoppers, a rising economic force, were also more apt to pay an additional fee for sustainable products. As the world returns to a semblance of normal, offering more sustainable products will not only reinforce brand loyalty but also give brands an opportunity to offer more higher-priced goods that will help meet consumer demand for sustainable items.
Consumers Have Seen an Increase in Brands’ Sustainable Action, but Believe More Steps Can Be Taken
Brands have begun sharing more about their sustainable business practices, but there is still more that needs to be done. In 2022, over a third (34 percent) of consumers believed brands offered enough transparency into their sustainability practices, compared to 23 percent in 2020. When asked what environmental and social commitments brands should prioritize the most, almost a third (32 percent) of respondents believed brands should commit to ethical labor practices. Brands that prioritize their mission or purpose may also be doing more harm than good with consumers – over a third (34 percent) believe sustainable brands reduce waste and promote eco-friendly materials/items. As the rise of fast fashion continues to harm the environment, consumers are looking to brands to share more transparency into eco-friendly apparel business practices and minimize apparel waste.
Consumers Are Split on Whether Government or Brands Should Drive Motivation for Sustainable Shopping
While consumers are looking for more transparency from brands they shop with, they are split on if businesses or the government should push more sustainable initiatives. Almost half of the respondents (49 percent) would like more sustainability across different brands following NY’s proposed Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability legislation. A majority of Gen Z (60 percent) and Millennials (59 percent) are in support of a national/global sustainable law. Only 37 percent of Baby Boomers are in support of a law that would mandate sustainable practices.
Legislation wasn’t the only driving motivation for consumers to purchase and live more sustainably. While many would pay more for sustainable goods, 56 percent of respondents are motivated by a lower price when deciding to purchase sustainable goods. Brands and governments can be doing a better job of providing more information around sustainability, as 38 percent of respondents would be motivated to buy more sustainable products if they received more information around sustainable initiatives.
Consumers are taking measures into their own hands to ensure they are not negatively impacting the environment. Beyond purchasing more sustainable and eco-friendly goods, close to half of the respondents (42 percent) are choosing to wait longer to receive goods from online suppliers. Almost a third (31 percent) of Millennials and Gen X are waiting longer to receive packages to protect the environment, followed by Gen Z (27 percent).
The CGS BlueCherry Enterprise Suite provides clients with comprehensive digital supply chain management solutions, available both in the cloud and on-premises, to drive their fundamental business processes. With a focus on the needs of high-growth organizations operating in consumer lifestyle products, home goods and furnishings, retail, and apparel, BlueCherry is a unified platform that provides supply chain visibility with the latest digital technologies. The BlueCherry Suite addresses the needs of the end-to-end supply chain, from planning and product development to manufacturing and sales.