Nielsen: Sustainability Pays

According to Nielsen, sales of consumer goods from brands with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability have grown more than 4% globally, while those without grew less than 1%. For the 2015 Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report, the market research firm polled 30,000 consumers in 60 countries across the globe about how much influence factors such as the environment, packaging, price, marketing, and organic or health and wellness claims had on their consumer goods purchase decisions.

Atop the list of sustainability factors that influence purchasing, affecting just about two-of-three consumers globally, was brand trust.

“This indicates an opportunity for consumer goods brands that have already built a high level of trust with consumers to evaluate where best to introduce sustainable products into the market to drive growth,” said Carol Gstalder, svp/reputation and public relations solutions, Nielsen. “On the flip side, large global consumer goods brands that ignore sustainability increase reputational and business risk. This may give competitors of all sizes, the opportunity to build trust with the predominantly young, socially-conscious consumer looking for products that align with their values.”

Among global respondents in the most recent study, 66% told Nielsen that they would pay more for sustainable goods, up from 55% in 2014 and 50% in 2013. Wealthy suburbanites in major markets aren’t the only ones willing to pay for sustainable offerings. Consumers across regions, income levels, and categories are willing to pay more if doing so ensures they remain loyal to their values, Nielsen noted. Sustainability sentiment is consistent across income levels, with those earning $20,000 or less actually 5% more willing, at 68%, than those with incomes greater than $50,000, at 63%, to pay more for products and services that come from companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact.

Millennials continue to be most willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings, Nielsen maintained, with almost three-out-of-four respondents in the latest findings willing to spend extra dollars, up from approximately half in 2014. The rise in the percentage of respondents under 20, also known as Generation Z, who said they would pay more also was strong, gaining from 55% of total respondents in 2014 to 72% in 2015, Nielsen related.