Harvard Business Review/ Tensie Whelan and Randi Kronthal-Sacco/Â June 19, 2019
For years, brand managers have groused that while consumers say they intend to buy sustainable products, in store they donâ€™t actually purchase them. This conventional wisdom has been used by many brands as justification for not making their products more sustainable.
NYU Sternâ€™s Center for Sustainable Business just completed extensive research into U.S. consumersâ€™ actual purchasing of consumer packaged goods (CPG), using data contributed by IRI, and found that 50% of CPG growth from 2013 to 2018 came from sustainability-marketed products. IRIâ€™s data comes from bar scan codes at retail checkout in food, drug, dollar, and mass merchandisers. We examined over 36 categories and more than 71,000 SKUs, which accounted for 40% of CPG dollar sales over the five-year period.
Products that had a sustainability claim on-pack accounted for 16.6% of the market in 2018, up from 14.3% in 2013, and delivered nearly $114 billion in sales, up 29% from 2013. Most important, products marketed as sustainable grew 5.6 times faster than those that were not. In more than 90% of the CPG categories, sustainability-marketed products grew faster than their conventional counterparts.
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