Report:Sustainability A Big So What For U.S. Consumers

Most U.S. consumers do not consider sustainability when grocery shopping and are largely apathetic about such issues compared to European counterparts, according to new research from The Big Picture, a design research agency based in London with newly opened offices in New York.

The research indicates that most North Americans would not select a product with ‘sustainable’ credentials because such products are usually isolated in separate aisles in U.S. supermarkets, requiring consumers to consciously seek them out. Also, there is a general lack of knowledge among consumers about the benefits of sustainable production.

The agency said the findings could have implications for major global marketers including Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Unilever (among others) that have agreed to lead an international effort—the Sustainable Consumption and Value Chain Initiative—to deliver sustainable consumption over the next several decades.

In the U.S., said Stuart Costley, svp, and head of The Big Picture’s New York office, consumers “have little or no desire to lead a sustainable lifestyle.” Costley said this is “largely due to a lack of direct marketing by government and business to consumers, and the price premium often involved.”

The ethnographic-based qualitative study interviewed and tracked 50 consumers on grocery shopping excursions in the U.S., U.K., Italy and Germany.

By region, the research found Germans to be the most “sustainably focused” shoppers while Britons ranked second. Italians, the study found, “have good awareness, but sustainability is still seen as an emerging trend rather than an established driver.”

More on the study can be found here.

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