Survey: Most shoppers still willing to pay extra for sustainability, despite cost-of-living hike

Consumers are demonstrating a steadfast commitment to sustainability.

A new survey has revealed a growing willingness amongst consumers worldwide to prioritise sustainability in their purchasing decisions, with nearly four-fifths of buyers willing to pay a premium for sustainably produced or sourced goods.

This is according to the latest findings from PwC’s ‘2024 Voice of the Consumer Survey’, encompassing the viewpoints of more than 20,000 consumers across 31 countries and territories.

According to the survey, almost nine out of ten (85%) respondents report firsthand experiences with the disruptive effects of climate change in their daily lives, propelling consumers to integrate sustainability-focused practices into their consumption habits.

Despite concerns over rising living costs and inflation, consumers remain steadfast in their preference for greener products and services.

While one-third (31%) of respondents identify inflation as the foremost risk to their consumption patterns, with 62% expecting groceries to become their most significant expense in the coming months due to inflationary pressures, more than four-fifths (80%) of consumers are willing to pay a premium for sustainably produced or sourced goods.

On average, consumers indicate a willingness to spend 9.7% more on goods that meet specific environmental criteria, such as being locally sourced, made from recycled materials, or having a lower carbon footprint in their production process.

PwC France’s global consumer markets leader Sabine Durand-Hayes said: “Consumers are increasingly feeling the squeeze of inflation and rising prices in essential goods such as groceries, however in that context, they are prioritising products that are sustainably produced and sourced.

“In the year ahead, companies must achieve a delicate balance between consumer affordability and environmental impact if they are to source and retain consumers.”

The findings highlight that while the intention to prioritise sustainability is strong, actual spending may be influenced by factors including inflation, macroeconomic volatility and overall cost-of-living concerns.

Consumer-led climate action

Furthermore, findings from the survey demonstrate that consumers are actively taking steps to shop more sustainably.

These actions include making more considered purchases aimed at reducing overall consumption (43%), altering dietary habits (32%), modifying travel behaviours (31%) and adopting environmentally friendly transportation options such as electric vehicles (EVs) (24%).

In terms of assessing producers’ sustainability practices, the survey reveals that consumers are placing emphasis on tangible attributes such as production methods, recycling initiatives, eco-friendly packaging, and the positive impact on nature and water conservation.

Furthermore, the survey highlights a shift towards healthier dietary choices, with a majority of consumers (52%) planning to increase their consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables while reducing their intake of red meat (22%).

Related feature: IKEA’s learnings on keeping sustainable goods affordable amid the cost-of-living crisis

Comments (1)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    Regarding the penultimate paragraph, if, by consumers, is meant members of the general shopping public, I would doubt that such considerations enter into consideration.
    Importance will be placed on living within the cash available.

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