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Expert Insight

The importance of being sustainable in 2020

by Barbara Williams


When it comes to consumers, different generations bring different demands and outlooks to the market with their purchasing choices. No matter which generation you are from, however, one thing is clear: we need to take sustainability seriously in 2020. As awareness of this fact increases, the pressure is on businesses to define the key drivers behind consumer purchasing decisions. Shoppers with a mind to reduce their impact on the environment are on the rise, with as many as 71.4% considering it when they buy their groceries. As this trend continues, companies will need to shift their focus to this priority if they want to stay competitive.

Loyal customers?


One area that is changing is customer loyalty. Today’s younger consumers are less likely to sign up to traditional customer loyalty programmes for the classic reasons. Instead, brands are more likely to win the loyalty of younger consumers through sustainable actions. This infographic highlights some telling statistics about consumer behaviour, and shows that around a quarter of Gen Z consumers always look for sustainable products, whilst 67% do so some of the time.


People are switching to companies with high ethical standards, as they begin to prioritise their personal values over traditional consumer drivers like saving money. In fact, brands are finding that they need to do more than merely print statements on a label, as consumers are going to far greater lengths to understand brands before making a purchase. Companies need to present their own values, demonstrating their economic commitments and credentials in order to win the loyalty of younger consumers. Sustainability is an inexorably increasing priority for the consumers of tomorrow, and they are willing to pay a price premium to get it.

Blacklisting brands

Another trend that is increasing is the willingness of consumers to boycott brands that fail to meet their expectations. There are certain ‘red lines’ for the modern consumer, and with a multitude of ways information can reach people in the modern world, it’s very easy to learn if a company crosses one of those lines. Sustainability is becoming so important to consumers that many have demonstrated a willingness to turn their backs on brands that they have purchased from their entire life if they learn that brand has failed to meet a certain standard. People are learning to vote with their money, and the shifting trends are certain to have an impact on the business landscape as consumer activism forces companies to make sustainability commitments.


The outlook


As we head towards 2020, all indications are that sustainability will be even more important than ever. Consumer behaviour is driving this, but there are very tangible reasons why consumers are prioritising environmental concerns at such a rate. A number of studies, documentaries, events and activist protests have brought the urgent need for drastic change to the attention of ordinary citizens. Our world is close to a ‘point of no return’ due to the actions and choices of industry, sales and rampant consumerism that urgently need to change. The power of the consumer is starting to make a significant impact – make sustainability your priority in 2020.

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