Description

The importance of sustainable living is decreasing for many consumers. As other crises continue to overwhelm Americans, they now expect brands to bear the brunt of the climate crisis by providing sustainability solutions that are accessible and convenient. Mintel’s US State of Sustainability Market Report provides you with expert analysis of consumer sustainability behaviors and emerging consumer demands.

Below, we’ve handpicked the key insights analyzed in the full report and summarized the core topics.

Key Issues Covered in this Report

  • Consumers’ attitudes towards sustainable living.
  • Sustainable lifestyles and behaviors in the US.
  • Current engagement and opportunities within the circular economy.
  • Consumers’ perceptions of and expectations for brands’ sustainability.

The State of Sustainability in the US

Consumers have not completely disregarded sustainability: 38% of US consumers rank sustainable living as an important daily consideration. Small acts of sustainability continue to prevail, with nearly two thirds of US consumers taking reusable bags when shopping. Brands can lean into the idea that small acts of sustainability make a difference as a way to promote further sustainable behaviors among consumers.

As previously mentioned, consumers have high expectations for brands’ sustainability efforts, however, they are also skeptical of brands’ sustainability claims, with over half thinking many companies are just pretending to be sustainable. Brands that are looking to engage consumers through sustainability need to prove their environmental efforts are truly impactful.

Purchase our full report to discover more about US consumers and sustainability behaviors, if you would like to learn more about sustainability on a global scale, take a look at our Global Outlook on Sustainability report.

Expert Analysis from an Industry Specialist

This report, written by Lisa Dubina, a leading research analyst, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends in sustainability and add expert context to the numbers.

Stress and concern over non-stop social, political and personal issues has consumers deprioritizing sustainable living. Instead they are placing the onus of addressing the climate crisis on brands, governments and other consumers. As unsustainable behaviors remain more common than sustainable ones, brands should encourage small, incremental steps toward sustainability to inspire continued efforts from overwhelmed consumers.

Lisa Dubina, Senior Analyst Culture and IdentityLisa Dubina
Associate Director | Culture and Identity

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas
    • Definition
    • Market context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top Takeaways
    • Consumer trends
    • Only a third of consumers feel sustainability is an important consideration in daily life
      • Figure 1: Importance of sustainability in daily life, 2023
      • Figure 2: Outlook on personal behaviors, by generation, 2023
    • Although unsustainable actions are more common, consumers remain engaged with small acts of sustainability
      • Figure 3: Unsustainable vs sustainable behaviors, 2023
    • Consumers have high expectations for brands’ sustainability, but are also skeptical of brands’ sustainability claims
      • Figure 4: Expectations for brands’ sustainability efforts, 2023
      • Figure 5: Attitudes to brands’ sustainability efforts, by generation, 2023
    • Opportunities and competitive strategies
    • Repairing and buying refurbished have the opportunity to grow in popularity, especially among young consumers
      • Figure 6: Participation in circular economy, 2023
    • Collaboration between brands and the government are needed to educate and encourage sustainability among consumers
      • Figure 7: Responsibility for improving sustainability, by generation, 2023
  3. Consumer Sustainability by the Numbers

    • Consumers’ consideration of and dedication to sustainability greatly varies
      • Figure 8: Sustainability Attitudes, cluster segmentation, 2023
    • Segments
    • Earnest Optimists (33%)
      • Figure 9: Sustainability segments: Earnest Optimists, 2023
    • Overestimating Enthusiasts (28%)
      • Figure 10: Sustainability segments: Overestimating Enthusiasts, 2023
    • Guilty Underperformers (20%)
      • Figure 11: Sustainability segments: Guilty Underperformers, 2023
    • Old-School Skeptics (19%)
      • Figure 12: Sustainability segments: Old-School Skeptics, 2023
  4. Market Factors

    • The climate crisis accelerates to critical levels
  5. Consumer Sustainability – Fast Facts

  6. Outlook on Sustainability

    • Only a third of consumers deem sustainability an important consideration in their day-to-day life
      • Figure 13: Importance of sustainability in daily life, 2023
      • Figure 14: Importance of sustainability in daily life, by sustainability segments, 2023
    • Millennials and parents are more likely to prioritize sustainability in their everyday life
      • Figure 15: Importance of sustainability in daily life, by generation, 2023
      • Figure 16: Importance of sustainability in daily life, by parental status, 2023
    • The majority of consumers feel they’re doing their part, and few feel guilty for their unsustainable habits.
    • Trend spotlight: Hyper Fatigue has consumers checked out of sustainability goals
      • Figure 17: Outlook on personal behaviors, by sustainability segments, 2023
    • Gen Z adults are less likely to feel they are doing their part when it comes to sustainability
      • Figure 18: Outlook on personal behaviors, by generation, 2023
    • Consumers feel brands and private individuals are equally responsible to improve sustainability efforts
      • Figure 19: Responsibility for improving sustainability, by sustainability segments, 2023
    • Younger consumers more likely to look to the government to address sustainability
      • Figure 20: Responsibility for improving sustainability, by generations, 2023
  7. Lifestyle and Behaviors

    • Nearly half of the population believe it’s easy to live a sustainable lifestyle
      • Figure 21: Ease of sustainably living, by sustainability segments, 2023
    • Although unsustainable actions are more common, consumers remain engaged with small acts of sustainability
      • Figure 22: Unsustainable vs sustainable behaviors, 2023
    • Consumers’ sustainable and unsustainable behaviors don’t always align with their perceptions of their sustainability
      • Figure 23: Unsustainable vs sustainable behaviors – Repertoire analysis, by sustainability segments, 2023
    • Incremental sustainability looks different across generations
      • Figure 24: Unsustainable vs sustainable behaviors – Repertoire analysis, by generation, 2023
    • Younger consumers, especially Millennials, take the time to learn and stay up to date on ways to be more sustainable
      • Figure 25: Sustainability – Learning and researching, by generation, 2023
    • Greater financial affluence seems to correlate with a larger share of both sustainable and unsustainable behaviors
      • Figure 26: Unsustainable vs sustainable behaviors – Repertoire analysis, by household income, 2023
      • Figure 27: Unsustainable vs sustainable behaviors, by household income, 2023
  8. Circular Economy Opportunities

    • The majority of people have participated in some facet of the circular economy
      • Figure 28: Participation in circular economy, 2023
      • Figure 29: Participation in circular economy – Nets of activities in the past 12 months, 2023
    • Repairing and refurbished electronics have the opportunity to grow in popularity, especially among young consumers
      • Figure 30: Participation in circular economy – Select responses, 2023
      • Figure 31: Participation in circular economy – Nets of activities in the past 12 months, by generation, 2023
    • Brand spotlight: Back Market hacks Apple stores
      • Figure 32: Back Market goes Hack Market for Earth Day, 2023
  9. Sustainability and Brands

    • Consumers have high expectations for brands’ sustainability, despite being skeptical of their efforts
      • Figure 33: Perceived responsibility for improving sustainability, 2023
      • Figure 34: Attitudes toward brands’ sustainability efforts, by generation, 2023
    • Consumers feel the transportation industry has the largest negative impact on sustainability
      • Figure 35: Perceived impact of specific industries on sustainability, 2023
    • Gen Zs and Millennials are more attuned to the sustainability impact of the food industry and fast fashion, yet knowledge and behaviors do not always align
      • Figure 36: Perceived impact of specific industries on sustainability, by generation, 2023
    • Consumers expect brands to be reducing, transparent and proactively educating customers
      • Figure 37: Expectations for brands’ sustainability efforts, 2023
      • Figure 38: Patagonia films | The Monster in Our Closet, 2023
    • Younger consumers actually have lower expectations for brands’ sustainability efforts, indicating cooperation between brands and government is needed
      • Figure 39: Expectations for brands’ sustainability efforts, by generation, 2023
  10. Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

    • Brands must provide convenience and education in sustainability strategies
    • Package Free offers convenient and all-encompassing sustainable laundry kits
      • Figure 40: Package Free offers a greener version of laundry day, 2023
    • NIVEA Brazil educates and enables employees to live more sustainably
      • Figure 41: NIVEA Brazil partners with Ambipar Triciclo, 2023
    • US brands can take inspiration from sustainability strategies abroad
    • Lotte Department Store hosts “plogging” event for customers
    • Austrian government offers repair vouchers to encourage a repair-and-reuse culture
  11. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Consumer qualitative research
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.

Market

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Mintel’s proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.

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Data

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