Shoppers Willing to Pay More for Eco-friendly Items — to a Point

Shoppers continue to be “invested in eco-conscious practices,” according to the latest research from Blue Yonder, which also found consumers to be willing to pay more for sustainable products — to a point.

Its 2023 Consumer Sustainability Survey, released Monday, surveyed U.S.-based shoppers on their habits and preferences “for environmentally friendly shopping,” the company said, adding that by and large, “consumers remain invested in eco-conscious practices, with 48 percent of respondents sharing an increased interest in sustainability over the past year and 44 percent said it remained the same.”

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The report’s authors said shoppers “are eager to shop green where possible, even if it means paying more for certain products.”

The poll found that 69 percent of respondents said they were willing to pay more for sustainable items, “but this flexibility is not without limitation; just 4 percent expressed willingness to pay 20 percent more — across age groups. A willingness to pay 5 percent more was the top selection — and across all age groups.”

A tempered willingness to pay more for sustainable products is likely due to inflationary prices across the market. The survey found that 58 percent of respondents said price “was the most important factor in determining whether to make a sustainable purchase.” The research also showed that those polled who were willing to pay more for eco-friendly items did so with apparel (30 percent), cleaning products (27 percent) and beauty products (19 percent).

Ed Wong, senior vice president, global retail sector leader at Blue Yonder, said the company was pleased to see that shoppers “remain as focused as ever on adopting eco-conscious behaviors, with nearly three-quarters (74 percent) reporting shopping at retailers with sustainable products in the last six months.”

Wong said it is clear that “successful, environmentally friendly shopping must be driven by a symbiosis between brands and consumers. We’re deeply encouraged by how many respondents are willing to consider a sustainable product and company across resale and new product sales.”

Other notable results from the survey showed that consumers “are more than happy to opt for deprioritized, eco-conscious shipping speeds, and 78 percent would wait up to a week for a delayed delivery in favor of an environmentally friendly shipment.” And what if there was an incentive? Blue Yonder, which offers supply chain and omnichannel tech solutions, said 86 percent of those polled were willing to delay their online shipping if they were given an incentive.

“Of this group, 30 percent indicated they would wait for one week or more — up from 28 percent in 2022 — and with 18 to 29 [year-old age] demographic leading the way,” the report noted.

Other findings include indifference from consumers when brands make eco-friendly practices claims. Instead, shoppers turned to their peers via online reviews to gauge a brand’s ESG standing.

“The survey results tell us loud and clear that brands must walk the walk, and consumers rely heavily on each other to vet corporate ESG claims,” Wong said. “The past year has also demonstrated that consumers remain sensitive to prolonged inflation, with marked shifts in their willingness to spend and a clear trend in favor of shopping secondhand. As consumers navigate and weigh their options for more environmentally conscious shopping, we can expect to see these patterns continue across retail channels.”

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