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Behavior Change
US Consumers Looking to Brands, Ecolabels to Help Guide Better Purchasing Habits

New research from Sustainable Brands™ and Ipsos highlights post-pandemic consumer behaviors and priorities, and how product labeling influences purchasing decisions.

Sustainable Brands™ (SB) continues to track the changing motivations and behaviors of US consumers, alongside their prioritization of social and environmental issues. Through this collaborative research, the brands who make up the SB Brands for Good collective use this data to frame their strategies and messaging as they relate to the attitudes, behaviors and opinions of consumers in our rapidly changing society.

In partnership with Ipsos, SB’s latest Socio-Cultural Trends research study (conducted in March 2022) surveyed 1,000 US consumers. This study was designed to measure consumer progress on adopting sustainable lifestyles across the Nine Sustainable Behaviors. It also measured the level of priority given to taking sustainable action since the pandemic and how product labeling influences purchasing decisions.

When measuring the actions taken around the Nine Sustainable Behaviors, people tend to prioritize the ones that are already normalized in mainstream society — such as recycling, conserving energy, using fewer disposable products, and minimizing food and water waste. ‘Go circular’ was the top sustainable behavior that consumers reported doing most or all of the time; and respondents selects ‘Recycling whenever possible’ as the most important sustainable action to take. When looking at things other than family, children and work, consumers give ‘Making a positive impact on society’ and ‘Making environmentally conscious choices’ the same general level of importance as other everyday priorities — such as keeping a fitness routine and home improvements. The top-ranked priority, however, is placed on having time for themselves; 46 percent of people indicated that this has become an increased priority since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In order to further understand how US consumers prioritize sustainability, the study presented them with a selection of sustainability-related logos that are often found on packaging. They were asked to rank the logos in order of importance when considering a purchase of a household product (washing liquid), electronics (a computer mouse) or food (a new snack). Mirroring their answers as to how they prioritize their own personal actions, ‘Packaging made with recycled materials’ topped the list for motivating purchasing decisions for washing liquid and a new computer mouse. When purchasing a snack food, top motivators included certifications such as Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade Certified.

For an in-depth look at this report, please visit the Brands for Good Socio-Cultural Trends webpage and download the highlights report. Understanding consumer intentions and actions towards sustainable lifestyles is a vital step for brands. These insights provide the backbone for creating impactful campaigns that drive sustainable consumer behavior change in a way that is accessible, inspirational and rewarding.