Research Outline

Sustainability and Social Responsibility


To get a list of detailed insights into what factors consumers aged 35-50 consider about sustainability and social impact when buying new products, and also to gain an understanding of the key considerations, as well as top converting values, for consumers; which eco-labels (fair trade, recycled, organic) are important to consumers and how they impact consumers purchase decisions.

Early Findings

CGS 2019 US Consumer Sustainability Survey

  • According to the survey, when US consumers were asked about the factors that resonate the most with consumers when defining sustainability, for 31% of the consumers, the use of eco-friendly materials meant sustainability; for 15%, it was the active participation of brands in following ethical practices, for 8.8% it was about giving, and donation initiatives from a brand, for another 8.8% of the respondents, brands that are against animal cruelty and for 8.4% of the respondents, sustainability was about having a strong social purpose.

Meet the 2020 consumers driving change; An IBM Research Study

  • According to the IBM research study, "over seven in 10 shoppers in the US are willing to pay a premium for brands that support recycling, practice sustainability, and/or are environmentally responsible."
  • "Over 7 in 10 consumers say it's at least moderately important that brands offer "clean" products (78 percent), are sustainable and environmentally responsible (77 percent), support recycling (76 percent), or use natural ingredients (72 percent)."
  • As per the survey, some of the most important factors considered by US consumers before buying a product include brands offering "clean" products (77%), products with greater health and wellness benefits (77%), products made with organic ingredients (73%), brands supporting recycling (72%), the authenticity of products (72%), brands that are sustainable and/or environmentally responsible (72%), and brands that provide full transparency (71%).

A.T. Kearney’s Earth Day 2019 Survey

  • The survey found "that more than 70 percent of US consumers consider their impact on the environment when shopping."
  • "Nearly 80 percent of US consumers look to supporting factors or external certification to evaluate the credibility of sustainability claims."
  • "Fewer than 25 percent ranked “intangible” claims, i.e., undefined statements about energy reduction or water quality improvement—among their top three purchase decision influencers."

MarksteinCo + Certus Insights

  • A research study from Certus revealed that consumers are skeptical of corporates' environmental and social responsibility claims. As per the study, almost "three-quarters of respondents from the United States agree that when big corporations donate to charities and help with community projects, they are doing it more to make themselves look good than to help people in need."
  • "Consumers are not always willing to take companies at their word when they say they are socially responsible –– only 9% say they believe corporate claims about social responsibility "all the time" and another 67% believe them "some of the time."

Fairtrade Consumer Insights Reports

  • "76% of consumers would view a brand they already buy more favorably if it carried a fairtrade label."
  • "Half of the American consumers trust the Fairtrade label."
  • "64% of customers would recommend Fairtrade products to a friend or colleague."

Summary of Findings

  • We have provided survey and research findings from various institutions in the United States about the factors that consumers consider when buying a product, whether they trust social responsibility claims, do they have a preference towards specific eco-labels.
  • During our research, we observed that most of the research studies and surveys available in the public domains do not have any information about the preference and consideration that US consumers have towards specific eco-labels such as handmade, low carbon footprint, fair labor, recyclable.
  • Additionally, our findings are mostly focused on GenZ and millennial shoppers in the US (CGS 2019 US Consumer Sustainability Survey, IBM Research Study), and other studies included in our research had no specified age range, like most available research studies on the topic that are available online. Specific comparisons between different eco-labels and consumer preferences towards them are not available in the public domain.
  • During our research, we also found that US consumers want brands to showcase their sustainability initiatives and demonstrate the real impact of such initiatives.