The market research firm claims that companies face challenges in understanding what factors consumers base their sustainability purchases on. "There is still a gap between industry initiatives and consumer understanding. Our goal with this study is to provide [companies] with meaningful consumer conversations to close that gap," added the Group. Product category affects attitudes Sustainability Outlook 2008 will also look into how consumer attitudes towards sustainability vary in relation to different product categories. Hartman Group spokesperson Alison Worthington told CosmeticsDesign.com: "Sustainability is first and foremost a personal issue so consumers are most likely to consider sustainability to be important in products that come into close contact with the body everyday." Worthington added sustainability is therefore a hot topic in personal care and food and beverages. In these industries she said packaging and ingredients are expected to be most important in the eyes of consumers. "Sustainability is a massive business opportunity. This is driven partly by the cultural shift of consumers wanting to align themselves with companies that share their values," said the Hartman Group. To gain a complex understanding of consumer attitudes to sustainability, the Hartman Group will be using a quantitative survey of 1,600 US consumers alongside in-depth questioning. Study sponsors The trend watchers are currently seeking industry sponsors for the study, which will provide clients with recommendations for long-term green strategies tailored to their industries. "Sponsors receive results detailing the key drivers of sustainability for their specific product category. [The study] will get specific around notions of where price, packaging and messaging are heading," claims the analysts. The group said that sponsorship is scheduled to close next month. The sustainability report itself is expected to be published at the end of the year.