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Do consumers care about sustainability and business claims of ‘sustainable’ products?

A new report finds 73% of consumers surveyed aspire to adopt more sustainable lifestyles

Do consumers care about sustainability and business claims of ‘sustainable’ products?
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

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Sustainability has become a paramount concern for consumers worldwide, with a vast majority expressing a desire to lead more environmentally responsible lives. Recent research by Alibaba Group, The Sustainability Trends Report 2023, found that 73% of consumers surveyed aspire to adopt more sustainable lifestyles and many are increasingly skeptical about businesses’ claims about their “sustainable” products.

The report, which sheds light on consumer sentiments and challenges surrounding sustainable practices based on responses from 14,000 individuals across 14 markets in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, finds convenience (53%) and affordability (33%) are critical for driving behavioural changes on consumer sustainability.

The report found emerging Asian markets exhibit high enthusiasm, with 87% expressing their commitment to sustainability. 

However, consumers face significant barriers to embracing sustainable practices despite this overwhelming desire. Most consumers (53%) believe that convenient access to sustainable options is essential for driving behavioral changes. In comparison, 33% feel that the current costs of sustainable products are prohibitive, making it challenging for them to opt for greener alternatives.

While consumers are increasingly concerned about sustainability, they are skeptical about businesses’ claims about their “sustainable” products, with only 15% of respondents expressing complete trust in the sustainability claims made by firms. 

The report emphasizes businesses’ crucial role in promoting sustainability and making it easier for consumers to make eco-conscious choices. Respondents expressed that businesses can drive sustainable practices by offering more affordable sustainable products (61%), reducing single-use plastics and packaging (55%), and providing a wider range of sustainable products and services (47%).

To bridge the “say-do” gap and earn consumer trust, companies need to demonstrate greater transparency and commitment to their sustainability claims. More transparency and backing sustainable practices with data will foster consumer empathy and trust.

Consumer engagement with sustainability practices and receptiveness to learning more about sustainable options vary across regions. While the majority globally (76%) express interest in obtaining information on sustainability, the Philippines (93%), Indonesia (91%), and UAE (90%) lead in their quest for sustainable knowledge.

As consumers increasingly demand eco-friendly products and services, companies must prioritize transparency, affordability, and convenience to drive sustainable choices, according to the report.

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