Ecological & responsible

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Consumer Research 2023 (3 min read)

Why is responsibility and sustainability important for today's businesses?

Today's consumers want to live more responsibly and sustainably

A consumer study conducted in 22 countries in 2021 confirmed what many service providers had already noticed: over half of the consumers said that they had become more environmentally conscious during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are surely many reasons for this, but a significant factor was the temporary halt in consumption habits, which made many people reflect more on their values and purchasing habits. This trend, which had already been strongly visible for years, received an additional boost from the global pandemic. It became clear that consumers prefer to spend their money on responsible and eco-friendly solutions.

The consumer research conducted in Finland in 2023 confirmed this as well. It revealed that 84.6% of women using hairdressing services would prefer to have the salon use responsible and eco-friendly products if they performed as well as the current products. Fortunately, the demands of today's responsible consumers have led to the point where there is no longer a need to compromise on the performance of eco-friendly products.

As consumers have more choices than ever when it comes to products and services, it is important for businesses to do their best to strengthen customer loyalty. Trust and transparency are paramount because customer trust and commitment to a company suffer from greenwashing. According to studies, the following deficiencies are most likely to cause consumers to end their cooperation with a company:

  1. Weak commitment to environmental issues (84% of respondents*)
  2. Misleading promises regarding environmental issues (81% of respondents*)
  3. Poor customer service (80% of respondents*) (*4665 respondents)

Thus, deficiencies in environmental issues are the biggest reasons that can turn consumers away from service providers, even more so than poor customer service. But in addition to enhancing their customer loyalty by taking environmental and sustainability matters into account, businesses can also have a significant impact on the positive development of society as a whole.

The positive role of businesses in society 

How can companies help their customers on their journey toward consuming according to their values while also supporting sustainability goals at the societal and even global level? Companies can make the offering of ecological and environmentally sustainable products and services commonplace – the new normal. Let's take disposable plastic straws as an example. It wasn't long ago that plastic straws were the standard in all takeaway drinks. Starting from 2021, plastic straws have been banned based on an EU directive, but even before that, many companies made the decision to stop offering them, and in practice, plastic straws disappeared from the streetscape completely before 2020. Together, companies can shape a new normal. And there is demand for this! In fact, even 85% of consumers have changed their purchasing behavior to be more environmentally friendly in the past 5 years, and for every fourth consumer, the change has been either significant or a comprehensive lifestyle change.

Customer commitment rewards a company's sustainability efforts 

In addition to the opportunity for companies to be a force for good in society, the time and energy invested in sustainability are returned as a positive impact on a company's customer flow. According to studies, approximately 95% of young adults claim to be loyal to companies whose values align with their own. The influence of conscious consumers is clearly evident in the beauty industry, even in terms of numbers: while green chemistry products currently represent only about 15% of the entire market, they account for over 60% of the market's growth.

What kind of customer buys responsible and ecological products?

Studies confirm that customers interested in responsible and ecological cosmetics have many characteristics that also lead to higher life expectancy and well-being. Well-educated and affluent consumers are more inclined to buy responsible cosmetics. Ecological values are generally more important to women than men. In the profile of conscious consumers, urban areas, millennials, and Generation Z stand out. However, the shift towards greener consumption habits does not only apply to specific groups; it affects society as a whole. Eight out of ten consumers consider environmental sustainability to be important, and for every second consumer, it is one of the most important values when choosing products and services.

"Sustainable cosmetics are now the new norm, and we consider it our goal to facilitate the beauty industry's transition to sustainable and ecological business," says Sharon Forbes, the founder of Greenlips Beauty.

Sources: IRO Research, Vastuullisten ja ekologisten hiustuotteiden käyttö kampaamoissa 2023; GlobeScan, Healthy and Sustainable Living Highlights 2022; NYU STERN, Sustainable Market Share Index 2022; GWI, CSR Report 2021; Simon Kucher, Global Sustainability Study 2021; Yotpo, Brand Loyalty Study 2022; Accenture, Life Reimagined 2022; Forrester, The New Green Consumer 2022; PwC, Consumer Insights Survey 2021; Spring Wise, Next Generation Trends 2022.

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