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Consumers value sustainability, shows Unilever data

By Deanna Utroske

10-Jan-2017
Last updated on 10-Jan-2017 at 15:14 GMT2017-01-10T15:14:43Z

Consumers value sustainability, shows Unilever data

The multinational consumer goods company recently released the results of its global consumer survey on sustainability, results which indicate that shoppers in the US are highly motivated to make ‘purpose-led’ purchases.

The data shared does not break down consumer behavior according to category. Nonetheless, the company’s own brand sales data indicates that these findings apply across the board and have relevance in the personal care sector.

Unilever suggests that the market for sustainable consumer packaged goods is worth hundreds of billions of dollars. And that “the scale of this opportunity is…further borne out by Unilever’s own financial performance. Of its hundreds of brands, those such as Dove, Hellmann’s and Ben & Jerry’s, that have integrated sustainability into both their purpose and products delivered nearly half the company’s global growth in 2015,” reads a press release on the data. “Collectively, they are also growing 30% faster than the rest of the business,” the company adds.

Scale and scope

In collaboration with the consumer panel company Europanel and the insights and brand consultancy Flamingo, Unilever surveyed 20,000 adult consumers from five countries. The goal was to determine how people’s ideas and concerns about sustainability play out as lifestyle choices and purchasing decisions.

“This research confirms that sustainability isn’t a nice-to-have for businesses,” Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer at Unilever, tells the press.

“In fact, it has become an imperative. To succeed globally, and especially in emerging economies across Asia, Africa and Latin America,” Weed believes “brands should go beyond traditional focus areas like product performance and affordability. Instead, they must act quickly to prove their social and environmental credentials and show consumers they can be trusted with the future of the planet and communities, as well as their own bottom lines.”

Who cares

Unilever found that 78% of consumers in the US “feel better when they buy products that are sustainably produced.” Farther south in the region 85% of consumers in Brazil feel better about buying sustainable products. The same is true for 53% in the UK, 88% in India, and 85% in Turkey.

The survey found that 33% of consumers expressly buy from brands because of the social and environmental impact of the brand. And that 21% would select a brand with clear sustainability credentials on the package or in marketing material.

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