Rethinking Consumption – Consumers and the Future of Sustainability


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The Regeneration Consumer Study is an online survey of consumers' attitudes, motivations and behavior regarding sustainable consumption. It included 6,224 respondents from six major global markets (Brazil, China, Germany, India, United Kingdom and United States) and was conducted in September and October 2012. The study was developed by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility.

Global economy and natural environment are today faced with entirely new challenges and strains, the most prominent one being how to meet the growing needs of the expanding population.

Although there are still considerable obstacles to sustainable consumption – from skepticism toward the product's performance and its alleged characteristics to high prices and a lack of knowledge on the product's beneficial impact – there are also various ways of boosting it. Consumers merge their moral principles with their everyday needs more than ever before, and display a higher awareness of the greater good, as well as active participation in working toward a better quality of life and more sustainable economy.

Here are some of the key findings of the study:

  • Consuming Less, Consuming Better: While 66% of consumers across the six countries surveyed believe in consuming less, the pattern varies across markets, with 76% of consumers in developing markets and 57% in developed markets being inclined to believe that “as a society, we need to consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations.”
  • Similarly, consumers in emerging markets are much more likely than consumers in developed markets to “feel a sense of responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society” (82% to 49%, respectively).
  • Shifting Perceptions: Views on Price, Performance and Credibility Most Frequently Undermine Sustainable Purchasing: A majority of consumers globally agree or strongly agree that they would “purchase more products that are environmentally and socially responsible” if they “performed as well as, or better than, products they usually buy” (75%), “it didn’t cost more” (70%), “companies’ health and environmental claims were more believable” (64%), they “had a better understanding of what makes products environmentally or socially responsible” (63%), or they “could see environmental or social benefits of the products right away” (63%).
  • Price is the top barrier to green purchasing in developed markets (78%) while product performance (74%) is the top barrier in developing markets along with needing “a better understanding of what makes products socially and environmentally responsible (72%)
  • Collaboration and Participation – Being Part of the Solution: Two-thirds of consumers globally (67%) are “interested in sharing their ideas, opinions and experiences with companies to help them develop better products or create new solutions,” while seven in ten consumers (72%) globally “believe in voting and advocating for issues important to me.”