Consumer Demand for Sustainable Products and Business Practices Spikes During Pandemic

Lisa Lockwood
·2 min read

A year into the pandemic, there’s been a sharp spike in consumer demand for sustainable products and business practices, according to research from the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol.

The Trust Protocol surveyed 1,000 brands and retailers in the U.S. and U.K., and found 63 percent of brands believe that the pandemic has had a positive impact on their company’s investment in sustainability.

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Further, it found that 61 percent of brands and retailers said customer demand has risen for environmentally sustainable business practices and goods and services, and 50 percent of brands and retailers expect to see an increase in consumer spending on sustainable apparel over the next 12 months, driven by increased spending, a need for people to get back to normal and that consumers will have saved money during the pandemic.

The survey also revealed that 69 percent of brands and retailers believe that the pandemic has emphasized the importance of environmentally friendly products to customers.

When it comes to the positive impact on their company’s proactive investment in sustainability, 42 percent said the main focus areas are sourcing sustainably produced raw materials. An equal percentage said manufacturing sustainability and reducing the impact of chemicals, water and energy, while 40 percent cited safe working environments.

Some 65 percent of brands and retailers agree that data is important to their future sustainability goals.

“It is undeniable that the pandemic has caused unforeseen challenges for brands, retailers and consumers alike but this research reaffirms the commitment to a continued focus on sustainability,” said Dr. Gary Adams, president of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol. “We’re encouraged to learn that so many brands and retailers are looking to set new standards for the industry, instead of simply following what currently exists. As we work toward recovery in many sectors, systems like the Trust Protocol are available to provide the data needed to verify that sustainability targets are being met.”

The Trust Protocol is a system for more responsibly grown cotton that has committed to six areas of sustainability in line with the U.N. Sustainability Development Goals. It underpins and verifies sustainability progress through data collection and independent third-party verification. This enables members to better track the cotton entering their supply chain.

The Trust Protocol is overseen by a multistakeholder board, comprised of representatives from brands and retailers, civil society and independent sustainability experts, as well as the cotton-growing industry, including growers, gins, merchants, wholesalers, and cooperatives, mills and cottonseed handlers.


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