Sustainability and Consumer Research by IRI and NYU Stern CSB Showcases Trends and Opportunities for Consumer Products Growth

IRI, which recently merged with The NPD Group to create a leading global technology, analytics and data provider, and the NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business (CSB) released new research, Sustainability and the Consumer, which features new survey data on consumer perceptions and leverages CSB’s Sustainable Market Share Index™ to illustrate the sustainability attributes that matter most and how to optimize marketing efforts and product innovation to drive growth.

“Challenges such as supply chain disruptions and inflation have made it difficult for brands and manufacturers to identify which shopping behaviors are real trends, and which are a temporary response to market conditions”

Key findings from the research include:

Consumers and Sustainability

  • 93% of consumers have maintained or increased their sustainable purchase habits in the past year
  • 77% of consumers believe sustainability is important when selecting products to buy, up 8 percentage points from 2021 findings
  • 27% of shoppers — and 32% of Gen Z and millennials — seek out retailers that carry sustainable products, indicating a shopper preference that is likely to endure and increase over time

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Sustainability in Products

  • While sustainable products represent just 17% of total CPG sales, they drove one-third of all CPG growth in the past year
  • Sustainability-marketed products grow 2.7x faster in their categories than conventionally marketed products
  • Roughly 50% of all new products in 2021 were sustainable, up 20% from 2017
  • Sustainability-marketed products can command price premiums over their conventional counterparts that can range from 8% to 130%.

“Challenges such as supply chain disruptions and inflation have made it difficult for brands and manufacturers to identify which shopping behaviors are real trends, and which are a temporary response to market conditions,” said Randi Kronthal-Sacco, senior scholar, NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business. “Each year, our research with IRI shows increasing interest in sustainability-marketed CPG products, showing that sustainability has become a lasting priority for consumers.”

“Because our research with CSB shows a growth of sales and interest for sustainable products year-over-year, it’s no surprise that we’ve seen successful new product launches incorporating sustainable benefits increasingly since 2017,” said Joan Driggs, vice president, Content and Thought Leadership, IRI. “Our new research finds that Gen Z and millennials are noticing this increase and are more likely to try these new products than older generations.”

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