Global Study Finds US Consumers Still Committed to Making Sustainable Purchases Amid Inflation

Buyers Most Likely to Pay Premium Prices for Home Construction and Consumer Goods; Least Likely to Pay Extra for Energy/Utilities

BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The demand for sustainable goods and services is becoming increasingly important in US consumers’ purchasing decisions, according to the Global Sustainability Study 2022 by Simon-Kucher & Partners, the world’s leading pricing advisory firm. The second annual report found 65 percent of US buyers consider sustainability when making purchases, a 14 percent increase from a year ago. This shift in consumer behavior coincides with a shift sentiment toward sustainability over the past 12 months, as 73 percent of US consumers view environmental sustainability to be ‘as important’ or ‘more important’ to them than a year ago.

Notably, 45 percent of respondents who previously identified their attitudes towards sustainability as negative or neutral, now cite environmental sustainability as a higher priority when it comes to purchasing decisions. Overall, 61 percent of US consumers rank sustainability as a top five value driver in at least one category.

Attitudes about sustainability continue to shift

In the US, 71 percent of consumers surveyed indicated their purchasing behavior and choices have shifted in at least a modest way towards buying more environmentally sustainable products over the past five years. The US is tied with Norway, which saw the largest positive shift of 16 percentage points.

Shoppers continue to view sustainability as the most important for goods and services that have a tangible effect on the environment. Those surveyed ranked energy/utilities (69 percent), construction/home (61 percent) and consumer goods (57 percent) as the most important categories for environmental sustainability when making purchasing decisions. Automotive (55 percent), travel and tourism (53 percent) and financial services (40 percent) were considered the least significant.

Willingness to pay more for sustainability differs across industries, but is trending down overall

Respondents indicated they are most willing to pay a premium for sustainable goods and services when it comes to home construction (39 percent) and consumer goods (35 percent). They were least likely to pay a premium when it comes to energy/utilities (29 percent).

“Consumers continue to prioritize sustainability, but their willingness to pay a premium for sustainable goods and services varies by product category,” said Shikha Jain, author of the study and Partner at Simon-Kucher. “Sustainability is also becoming table-stakes rather than a justification for charging higher prices. As such, companies must adjust their business models to stay relevant to consumers.”

Both internal and external motivators are driving sustainable purchasing behavior, but US consumers – and businesses – have several barriers to break through

While a sense of responsibility (61 percent) was the leading motivator for purchasing sustainable goods and services, followed by a fear of environmental damage (49 percent) and the benefit of younger generations (46 percent), respondents also indicated there were several barriers to sustainable purchasing. The three primary barriers to purchasing were insufficient access to sustainable goods (30 percent), lack of affordability (28 percent), and lack of clarity on when a product/service is sustainable (25 percent).

Recent inflationary pressures around the world have also had a dampening effect on the purchase of sustainable goods and services: 35 percent of US respondents said they are less likely to buy sustainable goods and services due to price inflation, and 35 percent also said they were more selective in which categories (e.g., consumer goods, transportation, etc.) they would pay for sustainable alternatives due to inflation.

“With attitudes and behaviors towards sustainable consumerism trending upwards year over year, it’s clear sustainability is not a fad and is here to stay,” said Andreas von der Gathen, co-CEO of Simon-Kucher & Partners. “Consumers will continue to expect more from companies; and those that don’t adapt and innovate, even in spite of hurdles such as inflationary pressures, will suffer in regards to their long-term profitability and viability.”

Simon-Kucher & Partners’ Global Sustainability Study 2022 surveyed 1,003 U.S. consumers. The study included representative quotas set for age, gender, living area, education level, employment status and income level.

Complete study findings are available upon request, including industry and country splits.

*About the Study:

The Global Sustainability Study 2022 survey was conducted between July and August, 2022 by Simon-Kucher & Partners, fielding through panel data provided by Dynata, an independent market research agency. The study surveyed 11,711 consumers across 19 countries: USA (N=1,003), Germany (N=1,001), Denmark (N=760), Sweden (N=755), Brazil (N=532), China (N=505), Singapore (N=526), Spain (N=528), Switzerland (N=512), UK (N=507), Australia (N=502), Austria (N=515), France (N=512), the Netherlands (N=501), Norway (N=752), Italy (N=506), UAE (N=510), Finland (N=758), India (N=526). The study included representative quotas set for age, gender, living area, education level, employment status & income level. The study, which was designed to measure consumer attitudes towards sustainability, importance of sustainability and willingness-to-pay for sustainability, also focused on 19 different product/service categories of the following sectors: Consumer Goods & Retail; Automotive; Travel & Tourism; Energy/Utilities; Financial Services; and Construction/Home.

Simon-Kucher & Partners:

Simon-Kucher is a global consultancy firm with more than 2,000 employees in 27 countries. We focus on delivering measurable revenue and profit growth for our clients. We do this by optimizing our clients’ pricing, sales, and marketing strategies—better and more sustainably than anyone else. With more than 35 years of experience in monetization, our experts work across all industries and types of business. We are regarded as the world’s leading pricing advisor.


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