Sustainable values in action - Photo by Danny Lopez showing farmland in Albuquerque's North Valley - SEED NM

Consumers Who Care: Sustainable Values Have an Edge

We are living in a disrupted world. The last couple of years have been witness to a sea change that continues to have profound repercussions for business. One notable effect has been an increase in the number of consumers who choose to purchase in line with their values. For businesses built on sustainable values, that’s great news.

In a McKinsey study, 40% of consumers noted that their purchasing decisions are made in part by companies “taking a strong stance in a public and visible way on social issues.” More intriguing details can be found in their podcast and post “Rise of the inclusive, sustainable consumers.” The panelists note that customers, especially millennials and Gen Z, want to purchase from sustainable companies.

“If we’re talking about health and environment, it’s things like having recyclable products. Natural is a huge signifier. […] But just wanting things to have a simpler list of ingredients, or something that’s closer to something they recognize and is very transparent, and then less packaging. They’ll even talk about fair-trade practices. So folks are thinking about how companies are treating the people at the other end of the supply chain.”

Tamara Charm, “Rise of the inclusive, sustainable consumers”

What buying patterns will emerge in the next few years? As Covid-19 challenges become more routine, think tanks, businesses and consumers are all scrambling to figure out where the market of the future will be. Research shows that online purchasing is likely to persist even as people go back to stores, that brand loyalty has eroded and that younger consumers pay attention to recommendations from influencers, among other changes.

“What makes me optimistic is that we’re shifting from a conversation of why it’s the right thing to do to why consumers are demanding it and why it really matters in a broader dialogue. Some of the example data we talked through today, being able to say that 70 percent of the younger generations actually really care about environmental, social, and governance topics—to me, that is a really big shift, where I don’t think we were having that same conversation a year or two ago.”

Kelsey Robinson, “Rise of the inclusive, sustainable consumers”

In this environment, small, sustainable businesses have an advantage. If we can live our values, focusing more directly in our private and public realms on sustainable stories and practices, we can benefit from (and better serve) an increasing number of informed consumers. Our monthly SEED NM meetings are the perfect place to discuss this and other related topics—we hope you’ll join us!

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