Sustainability as a cultural value is a defining concern for consumers, according to a new report, “Sustainability 2019: Beyond Business as Usual,” released by the Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash.
“Sustainability is shorthand for a complete moral system of cultural values, beliefs and attitudes related to a sense of responsibility for the greater good,” says Laurie Demeritt, chief executive officer.
The report finds that today’s consumers are confronted by real and immediate sustainability challenges. Even abstract problems like climate change and the permanence of plastic waste have become pressing and present for consumers across segments, and they want progress and solutions.
“While the stakes are getting higher, eroding trust in government and corporations has left consumers hungry for leadership,” says Demeritt. “The moral, even spiritual, overtones evident in consumers’ relationship to sustainability stem not just from a search for hope and resilience, but also a sense that collective action and even sacrifice is necessary for progress.”
Consumers appear to be more willing to prioritize the greater good in their purchasing than in the past. For example, in a major shift, 51% of consumers now report the environment as their major reason for purchasing sustainable or socially responsible products compared to 32% of consumers just two years ago.