EY Future Consumer Index: 68% of global consumers expect companies to solve sustainability issuesAugust 4, 2021
Globally, levels of concern among consumers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are moderating slightly, according to the seventh edition of the EY Future Consumer Index. Thirty-nine percent of the 14,047 consumers surveyed believe the health crisis will continue to impact their lives for at least another 12 months, down from 40% in February 2021.
A key emerging trend is the prioritization of sustainability, which comes at a time when consumers are also re-evaluating other areas of their lives, including affordability. Most consumers (64%) plan to pay more attention to the environmental impact of what they consume, but 60% intend to focus more on value for money. This creates a tension over who should pay for sustainability.
Cristian Cârstoiu, Partner, Consultig, EY Romania: “Amid a growing trend in the confidence of managing the COVID-19 medical crisis, consumers place an increased emphasis on managing family finances, but also on sustainability and returning to the pre-pandemic lifestyle. As a result of an increased desire to live sustainably, consumers prefer companies that invest in sustainability. These investments are, however, covered through an increased price of products, and consumers become reluctant to pay more for the same amount charged. Sustainability is understood differently depending on the geographical area, and companies should focus their efforts on the transparency of sustainability investments, but also in a clear communication on the values and actions taken in this regard.”
Sustainability gap between intention and action
Overall, 64% of consumers continue to spend more time at home than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Homes have become a hub from which people work, order deliveries, exercise and stay entertained, presenting a huge opportunity for them to pivot to sustainable choices that positively impact the environment and society. Thirty-one percent of respondents say they now spend more on products that are sustainable and better for the environment, and 64% are prepared to behave differently if it benefits society.
However, 78% of consumers are concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their finances and 53% say price is a more important purchase consideration than before the pandemic, threatening the longevity of positive attitudes toward sustainable behaviors. Rather than make significant financial commitments toward helping achieve bigger societal goals around sustainability, many consumers are pursuing low-impact, no-cost actions that save them money. Indeed, over half of respondents (56%) say they mainly adopt sustainable behaviors if it saves them money, notably in relation to key consumer household activities, including conserving energy use (85%), recycling or reusing packaging after use (83%) and bringing reusable shopping bags to the store (83%).
Who will pay for sustainability?
This lack of financial commitment means that most…