Trends Briefing: Sustainability During a Crisis… and Beyond
The Return of Optimism
Thursday 26th February 2023
Sustainability is more than a buzzword.
For many individuals it has become an intrinsic, if not always large, part of their lives – and their purchase patterns. For many organisations and businesses it now plays an increasingly influential role in their internal decision-making, operations, and processes.
In short, sustainability matters.
The issue rose in prominence since the turn of the millennium as growing public awareness combined with the very real impacts of climate change on the global stage. Not all consumers are the same, and shades of green exist, but sustainability became a central issue for British consumers – with public concern peaking in the UK alongside COP26 late in 2021.
A lot has happened in little over a year.
The worst cost-of-living crisis in decades, sky-rocketing energy bills as Russia invaded Ukraine, and the looming spectre of recession. During the last economic downturn, the Great Recession that followed the Financial Crash of the late 2000s, concern about sustainability plummeted as personal finances came first. Recovery was a long process – but the recent resilience of sustainability concern during the pandemic, where concern only dipped for a short period before recovering to near-normal levels, hints things may be different this time around. Any decline may not be for long.
Climate concern has grown deep roots. Sustainability may be down, for a time, but it is not out.
Looking further out into this decade and beyond, big questions around sustainability and what it will mean to consumers are emerging. As the direct impact of climate change on the UK grows will Consumption Guilt grow with it? What new areas of consumer spending, or organisational operations, will come under new scrutiny? How might sustainability play into new understandings of quality and value?
And as the macro-scale of the climate change problem becomes ever more apparent, and the macro-scale of the responses required to it clear, will the onus shift from individuals and onto businesses and governments themselves?
Hope for change could quickly become demands.
How will a prolonged economic crisis impact consumer views around sustainability? In what ways are consumer opinions around the issue changing – and how might businesses and organisations need to adapt?
Join us for our next webinar on February 23rd where we’ll tackle all these questions and more. As ever, our insights will draw on hot-off-the-press data from our monthly consumer sentiment barometer and come with implications for businesses, strategists and policymakers.