New Report: Unlocking sustainable living through global consumer insights
Today, consumers are facing rising costs of living, escalating impacts of climate change, and the introduction of new technologies that are reshaping their lifestyles. The need for a green transition that empowers consumers to adopt more sustainable lifestyles has never been more apparent.
The public will is there. 62% of consumers say they are open to changing their purchasing habits to reduce environmental impact. In the minds of the next generation of consumers, sustainable choices are not just the right thing to do, but what they want to do. Real-world behaviours, however, are trailing. The gap between intention and action remains high – and may even be widening. To understand why this is, we need to build a solid understanding of consumer thinking and behaviours. What are their needs and values, and what trade-offs are they making?
At Global Congress 2023, Consumers International publishes its latest research, ‘Global Consumer Archetypes to Foster Sustainable Living,’, developed with GlobeScan. The report uncovers new consumer insights to help policymakers and businesses enable people to live more sustainably. This study addresses critical questions around the aspiration-action gap between different consumer segments, understanding the motivations that drive them and the trade-offs they encounter.
Building upon data from 30,000 consumers across 31 global markets,* we identified 4 new consumer segments, each requiring a unique approach to help them live more sustainably. We then conducted in-depth interviews across 31 households in five countries — Brazil, China, India, Kenya, and Spain – to explore more specific needs and support.
*The data was collected through GlobeScan’s 2023 Healthy & Sustainable Living 2023 survey of 29,565 people in the general public in July – August 2023.
We identified four distinct consumer segments based on their attitudes toward sustainability, the sustainable actions they take, and their openness to technology as a solution.
- Conscious Consumers are actively trying to be more sustainable at home and when they shop. They have low trust in government and business but high feelings of personal responsibility. Conscious Consumers are more likely to be female, home-owning, suburban, and over the age of 40.
- Seekers are materialistic and do not proactively make sustainable choices. They enjoy trying new technologies and are often early adopters. They have low feelings of personal responsibility and high trust in government and business. Seekers are more likely to be male, urban, renters, and under 40.
- Supporters engage in sustainable actions that are part of the social norm and are motivated by improving health and lifestyle. They have medium feelings of personal responsibility and low trust in government and business. Supporters are more likely to be male and over 40.
- Savers feel more impacted by climate change but their desire to make a difference is limited by cost and access constraints. They have high feelings of personal responsibility and high trust in government and business. Savers are more likely to be under 40 and living in urban households with children.
The report highlights the different strategies that might motivate these segments, as well as potential interventions to engage each segment in more sustainable living.
- 94% of consumers support the shift to a green economy and over 80% hold governments, businesses, and international institutions responsible for implementing the changes needed.
- 87% of consumers say they are feeling the impacts of the rising cost of living. This is especially true for Savers.
- Consumers are supportive of making the green option the default. This removes the need for consumers to search for and compare different items over just one purchase parameter.
- Highlighting additional benefits of sustainable products and services — like style, performance, and technology — is particularly important for Seekers and Savers who are less motivated by sustainability.
- Consumers need to understand the positive impacts of their actions to adopt sustainable behaviours. This is true for both Conscious Consumers who feel they are already doing a lot but may not be engaging in the most impactful actions, and consumers who are reluctant to make big changes without an obvious need.
- Tailoring interventions to different consumer segments is likely to result in greater uptake of sustainable living. This means greater empowerment for Conscious Consumers, increased desirability for Seekers, normalising the opportunity for Supporters, and making sustainability affordable and accessible for Savers.
Now is the time for all stakeholders to double down on actions that enable consumers to adopt sustainable lifestyles through systemic change. Interventions should be designed according to consumer protection and empowerment principles, as upheld in the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection.
We are calling on governments to:
We are calling on businesses to:
Cross-cutting collaboration is key to creating a marketplace where sustainable choices are appealing and accessible to the broad spectrum of consumers.
We will take the first step toward this collaboration at Global Congress, where we are convening a high-level multi-stakeholder plenary – Making a Sustainable Lifestyle the Norm.
We welcome leaders from across government, civil society, and business to build with us and advance our recommendations to support consumers.
Contact email@example.com to learn more about our Consumer Insights Series in 2023 and beyond.