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Do consumers care about sustainability and responsibility?

Retailers need to address customer environmental and social concerns.

A new survey reveals how many consumers consider environmental sustainability and social responsibility in buying decisions.

According to the 2023 KPMG Winter Consumer Pulse Survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers, 37% of respondents consider environmental sustainability and 33% consider social responsibility when making a purchase. Following is a closer look at data from each set of respondents.

Environmental sustainability findings

Of respondents who consider environmental sustainability, more than 75% are looking for environmentally friendly products and/or packaging.

In addition, approximately 50% of these respondents determine a product’s environmental sustainability based on product labels, descriptions, images, or marketing. And 50% of respondents age 13-17 say that environmental sustainability is important to purchase decisions.

Overall, respondents are most likely to choose a product/service based on environmental sustainability features in the personal care products
(48%), groceries (44%), restaurants (42%), and apparel (42%) categories.

Social responsibility findings

Of respondents who say a company’s social responsibility is important to their purchase decisions, over half (51%) determine a product’s social responsibility based on product labels. Respondents age 13-17 are more likely to say that social responsibility is important to their purchase decisions (41% vs. 33% overall).

The categories for which respondents are most likely to choose a product or service based on social responsibility features are restaurants, apparel, and personal care products. And over 75% of respondents are at least somewhat familiar with social responsibility, with more than 50% of them associating social responsibility with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); employee human rights; health and safety; and fair wages.

“When a sizeable segment of consumers considers environmental sustainability and social responsibility in their purchase decisions, consumer goods and retail companies are taking note,” said Julia Wilson, KPMG consumer and retail ESG leader. “As they consider both factors, companies will need to continue to innovate and push supply chains to deliver on increasing consumer expectations for their products."

“The power of consumer purchase preferences to drive more socially responsible and sustainable practices from companies cannot be underestimated,” said Rob Fisher, KPMG US ESG leader. “Increasingly, consumers are aligning their purchase preferences with their values and priorities, incentivizing brands to publicly disclose what they are doing, why they are doing it, and where they are on their ESG journeys with their customers.”

[Read more: Consumers want sustainable options]

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