With Earth Day coming up on April 22nd, it's worth noting the ongoing evolution of the eco-conscious consumer. There has been a growing understanding among Americans that human activities are contributing to global warming, 54% of Americans now view climate change as a major threat, compared to 40% a decade ago. According to Mintel, 49% of Americans believe that their behaviors can have a positive impact on the environment.
But at the same time, consumers are now on high alert for “greenwashing” - a marketing tactic used by companies to portray themselves as more environmentally friendly than they actually are. And consumers remain unwilling to compromise on quality or cost for the sake of sustainability. Mintel reports that 80% of consumers think price is more important than sustainability and 76% are more focused on their budgets rather than sustainability at the moment.
Sustainability itself is no longer a premium proposition but a baseline expectation for many consumers. In fact, 73% of people think it’s the responsibility of brands and retailers to be more environmentally friendly - they want brands to incur the costs of their values so that they don't have to make the tradeoffs. The contradiction between consumer demand for sustainable products and their unwillingness to pay more for them has created a challenging environment for startups. Successful brands will leverage technological innovation to operate sustainably while delivering clear value to consumers - whether that be safety/health, exceptional functionality, or aesthetic appeal.