The needs of today’s sustainable consumers

81% of the world’s population is concerned with the sustainability of the products that they purchase
April 2019

Today’s sustainable consumer is neither young nor old, male nor female, European nor Asian: according to the most recent statistics, 81% of us globally and across demographic and attitudinal categories are concerned with the sustainability of the products we purchase (according to Nielsen).

There are various elements driving the growth of conscious or sustainable consumption: it is estimated that 12.6 million people die every year due to health risks associated with environmental pollution. Nine out of every ten of us breathe contaminated air (according to the WHO), and this pollution results in a cost burden of $5.7 billion for the global economy (according to the World Bank). The accumulated environmental and economic devastation has finally become an undeniable reality for most consumers.

Conscious consumption has become an irreversible force, as it emerges from a consumer that feels increasingly responsible for their personal purchasing decisions, and therefore more demanding of the products and services they choose. These consumers seek to share principles and values with the brands that they consume, relying on them to offer products manufactured from materials and ingredients that they understand and are aligned with. This presents an interesting opportunity for companies, as 73% of consumers would make changes in their consumption habits to reduce their environmental impact, and 49% would be willing to pay above-average prices in order to do so (according to Nielsen).

Luckily, many large companies are aware and have begun to take a stand in this area. Just this year, we’ve witnessed a multitude of promises and commitments from companies seeking to position themselves as allies to society and the environment. Starbucks has promised to eliminate plastic straws from its more than 25,000 stores by 2020, and McDonald’s will provide recycled or renewable packaging exclusively by 2025, while others are redefining their production processes, updating their product portfolios or revamping their business models.

We are entering a new era of brand ‘pro-activity’, which will leave brands across sectors that choose to ignore conscious consumers by the wayside. Disruptors in this area are becoming increasingly relevant (Chobani in F&B, Everlane in fashion, or Glossier in cosmetics), while large or established companies begin to apply the philosophies and methodologies that propel more sustainable practices, including: the circular economy, ‘Cradle to cradle’ design, life cycle analysis, and others.

At Lantern, we are excited to see the market become more and more friendly towards people and the planet. We take on our own responsibility and role in designing, along with the companies that hire us, solutions that are increasingly sustainable. In order to achieve this common goal, we offer services ranging from defining a corporate sustainability strategy, to circular product and service design. Let’s talk sooner rather than later.

María Urquiza
Consultant