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Here’s why retailers should invest in sustainability

Sixty-five percent of shoppers want retailers to invest more in eco-friendly practices

Concerns for the environment and sustainability drive consumer purchase decisions.

That’s according to a report by integrated sales and marketing services Acosta, which found that 65% of consumers want retailers to invest in sustainability. The company's new “Sustainability Impact on Purchase Behavior” report also shows that 59% of shoppers are making it a priority to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle.

Acosta's research demonstrates consumer preferences for sustainability initiatives among retailers and highlights a shift in purchase behaviors to support these efforts. More than half of shoppers (56%) are very concerned about the future of the environment, a sentiment that often drives what products they purchase. Seventy-five percent of millennials say sustainability is very/somewhat important when buying consumer packaged goods.  And four in 10 shoppers are more concerned about sustainability now than they were pre-COVID-19.

In other findings, 65% of consumers would like to see companies putting more investment into sustainability. Only about one in three shoppers are noticing sustainability efforts by retailers and manufacturers on a regular basis. 

"Consumers are continuing to place an emphasis on sustainability when making purchasing decisions, showing that eco-friendly lifestyles are here to stay," said Colin Stewart, executive VP, business intelligence at Acosta. "Retailers have an opportunity and responsibility to think through their environmental footprint and deliver value in ways that matter increasingly more to their customers."

Additional findings from the Acosta report are below.

• Consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products, such as plant-based meat alternatives (81%), beauty and personal care items (80%), dairy and dairy alternatives (78%) and meat/poultry (74%). 

Eighty-percent of shoppers have made it a priority to reduce, reuse and recycle products and packaging. 

• Sixty-three percent are more likely to seek out food and beverage products that are minimally processed. 

• Sixty percent are paying more attention to product packaging and its impact on the environment. 

• Older shoppers (Boomers-plus) are more likely to recycle, while younger shoppers (Gen Z and millennials) are more likely to modify their buying habits.

• Eighty-five percent of those who buy green products will always or most likely buy them in the future. 

• The top sustainable products purchased in the last year include fresh produce (60%), cleaning products (44%), and eggs (43%). 

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