Let’s start at the start!
What does Conscious Consumerism refer to? In the battle to decipher trends from reality, it’s important to explore what differentiates this from a passing trend.
Conscious consumerism refers to a person’s buying practices. Specifically, when these are driven by a commitment to making purchasing decisions that have positive social, economic, and environmental impact. It essentially replaces mindless consumption with mindful consumption. It signifies an awareness of our individual impact on the world around us. It connects our ability through individual action, multiplied to collective action, to catalyse and amplify our impact and drive demand for sustainable products, processes and services. In doing so communicating a preference for better-for-the-world-business.
Through consciously consuming, asking questions of ourselves, spurring action from producers, suppliers and service providers, consumers are collectively having an impact.
You might ask, is this actually happening in reality? Is there evidence to support this shift in consumer focus? The simple answer here is YES it most certainly is, and here’s a look at a number of market insights exploring this question:
- 88% of consumers want brands to help them be more sustainable, supporting them in their own efforts.
- 9 out of 10 consumers said they will continue to pursue ethical, more sustainable and environmentally friendly purchases beyond the pandemic.
- 41% of consumers from around the world say that they’re highly willing to pay more for products that contain all-natural or organic ingredients.
And while price remains part of the consumer decision making matrix, it’s interesting to note that it’s no longer the primary basis for a growing cohort of people. The 2020 Balancing Sustainability and Profitability Survey by Smurfit Kappa provides insights on the growing impact of conscious consumerism on business resilience, reporting that while 65% of consumers stated that price remains a key factor in their decisions, more than half said they purchased a product specifically because it had reusable or biodegradable packaging and 56% have paid more for a product or service that was sustainably sourced. Reinforcing the growing impact of conscious consumerism and sustainability on business relevance and resilience, the report highlights that sustainability is a catalyst for change and creates opportunities for businesses growth too.
Here to stay, or gone tomorrow…
The 2020 Smurfit Kappa survey states that business leaders must keep an eye on the future with sustainability a core pillar of their business strategy, highlighting climate change as the existential challenge of our time.
It’s the stark reality, and each one of us has a role in taking action. While we may not be the policy makers, individual actions, social calls for action and voting for change matters. And in the case of conscious consumerism, spending power matters. And consumers are taking action. By making more informed choices about a product or service, demanding higher standards, consumers are making this difference.
This drive for more information has brought a knowledge gap into focus with 69% of consumers struggling to identify whether brands practice sustainability. To proactively meet this knowledge gap, there is an opportunity for businesses that are taking action, making changes, committed to sustainability to differentiate themselves, and to translate their actions and commitment into clear, concise and informative communications, driving consumer engagement, brand reputation, and sales. Smurfit Kappa points out that “more education is necessary and that if brands can get this right, it will hugely strengthen the brand/ customer relationship”.
The crux of it is, that if people don’t know about your product, service or innovative process, whatever it might be, they won’t know to seek you out, to opt to choose your product instead of a competitors. Communication matters. Businesses need to tell their story, and engage consumers in their work and their brand.
A positive for us all.
It’s not about marketing lingo and snazzy product branding, consumers demand real action. The climate crisis demands real action. We are in an existential crisis brought home to us all even more starkly in the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. We are in a code red, and we all have a crucial role in accelerating change.
Start where you are. Take action. Progress action. Share your story, successes and challenges. Engage people in the work that you’re doing and be a driving force in better-for-the-world-business.