‘Sustainability becoming luxury of wealthy consumers as prices soar’

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Soaring price is currently becoming consumers’ main barrier to sustainable living, claimed a report by Kantar recently, highlighting how sustainability is increasingly becoming a luxury of wealthy consumers.  

According to Kantar’s Sustainability Sector Index 2022, 65 per cent of global consumers want to do more to be more mindful of the planet and the environment, but their increased cost of living prevents them from doing so. Beyond affordability, lack of knowledge about sustainable alternatives is the main barrier preventing people from living sustainably. 

About 29 per cent of consumers globally are ‘actives’, who are prepared to spend more time and effort to reduce their impact on the planet while 47 per cent of consumers say they have stopped buying a product or service because of its impact on the environment or society. This increases to 87 per cent of active consumers. 

Despite the desire to become sustainable – 97 per cent of people are prepared to take action to live a more sustainable lifestyle –price currently is becoming consumers’ main barrier to sustainable living. 68 per cent of consumers believe that products that are better for the environment and society are more expensive. 65 per cent want to do more to be more mindful of the planet and the environment, but their increased cost of living prevents them from doing so.  

Only one in three (35 per cent) of consumers who are ‘struggling’ with the cost of living actively seek out companies and brands that offer ways to offset their impact on the environment compared to 53 per cent of those who are financially ‘comfortable’. Alongside price, knowing the sustainable alternatives is the second major barrier for sustainable behaviour. 57 per cent feel that it is too difficult to tell which products are good or bad ethically, or for the environment. 

Commenting on the findings, Karine Trinquetel, sustainability expert, global head of Kantar’s sustainability transformation practice offer, said: “Despite all the other crises happening across the world, the desire to become sustainable has not eroded. However, sustainability products too often come at a premium, and that gets in the way of mass adoption. This is common even among the most engaged consumers, 77 per cent of whom believe that sustainable products are more expensive, and price prevents them from doing more for the planet.

“As a result, sustainability is too often the luxury of the wealthier in society – and businesses miss out on this massive commercial opportunity. To realise the mainstream opportunity, brands must scale up and go to market at a price point the mass market can afford. Beyond price, brands must recognise that consumers have a sophisticated understanding of where brands should be focusing in each sector, and develop sustainability strategies that address these concerns.”