More than half of global consumers have become more interested in green products during the pandemic, and millennials are the most aware of the impact their purchasing decisions have on the environment, the June PwC Global Consumer Insights Pulse survey shows.
It’s a lasting shift in behavior brought about by the pandemic that has given people more time to consider their lifestyles and the implications their daily activities, including shopping, have on the environment. This change can be seen if we look comparatively at the responses in the 2019 edition of the same survey. Before the pandemic, only 35% of respondents chose sustainable products to protect the environment, 37% looked for products with eco-friendly packaging and 41% avoided using plastic as much as possible. This year’s edition shows an increase of between 10 and 20 percentage points in the number of “yes” answers to each of these questions.
While concern for the environment has visibly increased among millennials aged 27 to 32 (around 60% are interested in eco-friendly products and buying from companies that protect the environment), Generation Z aged 23 to 26 are the most skeptical when it comes to sustainability when it comes to shopping. The difference in behavior between these generations could be explained by the younger generation’s perception that it is more expensive or more difficult to buy organic, healthy products with minimal environmental impact. The most interested in transparency of traceability and origin of a product are the ‘mature’ millennials, aged 33-36, with almost two thirds wanting to know such information.
While eco-consumerism is clearly on the rise, the survey reveals that some consumers are skeptical and don’t know or believe in the concept of sustainable shopping citing high price, questionable quality, limited availability or lack of time to look for it.
In conclusion, the survey shows that manufacturers and retailers should not overestimate this trend. Although more consumers say they are interested in sustainability, the data indicates that Generation Z in particular may be more likely to have pro-environmental views that often do not translate into spending on eco or organic products. As companies continue to offer more affordable and practical eco and organic options, however, consumer aspiration is likely to turn into action.