A new survey by German sustainable development company Utopia confirms that younger consumers are more willing to spend on eco-friendly products and are becoming increasingly critical of unsustainable mass consumption. With the majority of younger shoppers opting for meat-free and sustainably packaged products more than ever before to reduce their individual footprint, companies will find it increasingly difficult to ignore what is quickly becoming mainstream demand and must begin greening their operations.
The survey, which was conducted as a part of the firm’s 2019 study “A Question of Attitude”, is showing a rising conscious consumerism trend, particularly amongst young consumers aged 18 to 24. According to the research, 53% of consumers within the age group in Germany have already given up eating meat, and 60% of them are preparing to limit their consumption of meat in order to minimise their carbon footprint.
Utopia’s study also finds that younger shoppers want to spend on environmentally-friendly products that are plastic-free and are sustainably packaged, with 73% willing to abstain from products that do not fit into their ethical and environmental standards. The overwhelming majority of the demographic – 94% – said that they prefer to buy fewer items that are durable, instead of constantly purchasing single-use or products that are quickly thrown away.
Over 14,000 people took part in the survey, and over 8,800 questionnaires were evaluated for the overall study. For the analysis, Utopia collaborated with Dr. Brigitte Holzhauer, who is involved with regular environmental awareness studies for the Federal Environment Ministry of Germany.
Commenting on these findings, managing director of Utopia Dr. Meike Gebhard said: “Where the journey is headed can already be seen today in the attitudes and behavior of conscious consumers. They are seismographs for the consumption of the future.”
Previous studies on consumer trends have found similar results. Last year, research from New York University’s Center for Sustainable Business (CSB) found that consumers are now purchasing more sustainable products across every product category. In another report by Indian multinational corporation Mahindra, the majority of Indian consumers want to make sustainable lifestyle choices as much as possible, and are seeking plastic-free alternatives in particular.
Other reports have also concluded that younger generations have been at the forefront of driving demand for sustainable products. A BSG-Altagamma report found that over 50% of Gen-Zs – the generation taking to the streets on Fridays to demand climate action from governments and businesses – are purchasing secondhand clothing more than ever. Generation Alphas are bound to reinforce the movement, with over two-thirds of current 6-9 year olds declaring that saving the planet will be the central career mission in the future, according to a 2019 analysis by Wunderman Thompson Commerce.
What all these studies show is that companies and institutions must begin greening their operations if they haven’t already if they are to stay relevant in the long-term – especially when younger generations begin to overtake the majority of the market share. Gebhard says that Utopia’s findings should “create a basis for future decisions for companies, organisations and politics.”
Without responding to changing consumer tastes in favour of sustainability, companies that are not purpose-driven will inevitably lose market share in the long-term.
Lead image courtesy of iStock.