The Growing Demand for Sustainability-Related Product Content: Why Transparency Matters

June 25, 2024
consumer research report

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the impact of their purchasing decisions on the environment and society. This changing mindset has led to a global increase in demand for product information regarding sustainability and its impact on the environment. From the ingredients used to make a product to the way it is manufactured and packaged, consumers want to know the environmental footprint of the items they purchase. This demand for transparency is not just a passing trend; it’s a reflection of a larger shift toward consumption habits to make informed choices that minimize harm to the planet.

Our research confirms the importance of sustainability information

In our new study, The State of Product Content 2024, we surveyed over 6,000 consumers across the US, UK, Germany, and France. Overall, European and American consumers reported a similar priority on access to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) data, though French shoppers expressed particularly high demand. Younger consumers also valued this information at a slightly higher rate. 
Most notably, the majority of respondents (56%) believe that access to product sustainability information to factor into their purchasing decisions is Important, with Millennials (25 to 34-year-olds) rating it as Very Important — the highest percentage of all age groups in this category.

How important, if at all, is it that you be able to find information about a product’s environmental impact, sustainability claims, ethical sourcing, and supply chain accountability when considering whether to purchase a product?

Syndigo Product Content

Driving factors behind this popularity

Several factors are driving consumer demand for sustainability-related product content. These are primarily based on the growing awareness and concerns about climate change and interest in adjusting their consumption habits to slow down the damage and contribute to efforts to reverse it. In line with this sentiment is a growing set of global circular economy goals that are focused on developing products that can be repurposed and recycled in multiple ways to cut overall waste.

Syndigo Product Content

Additionally, global ESG policies are emerging that require companies to disclose more information about their products, including the European Union’s new Digital Product Passport. More than ever, consumers want to align purchasing decisions with their environmental values by seeking out “earth-friendly” products.

Here are some key concerns that are fueling the demand for more product information:

  • Health and Safety: Consumers are increasingly concerned about the chemicals and toxins present in the products they use. They want to know if the products they’re purchasing are safe for themselves, their families, and the environment.
  • Ethical Considerations: Many consumers are also concerned about the social and ethical implications of their purchases. They want to support brands that uphold fair labor practices, treat their workers well, and contribute positively to society.
  • Trust and Authenticity: In an era of greenwashing and misleading marketing claims, consumers are seeking authenticity and transparency from brands. They want assurance that the sustainability claims made by companies are backed by concrete evidence and actions.

Taking action – Approaches retailers and brands can take to meet these demands

Retailers and Brands

From a business perspective, these changes in consumer behavior have significant implications for retailers and brands. Ignoring or downplaying the demand for sustainability and transparency could result in lost sales, damaged reputation, and even regulatory scrutiny. On the other hand, embracing sustainability and meeting consumer expectations can lead to competitive advantages, enhanced brand loyalty, and long-term profitability. 

Here are some ways that retailers and brands can meet this growing consumer interest in sustainable products.

  • Provide Clear and Comprehensive Information: Brands should be transparent about their products’ environmental footprint, from sourcing raw materials to manufacturing processes to end-of-life disposal. This information should be easily accessible and up to date for consumers through various channels, including product labels, websites, in-store, and mobile apps.
  • Earn Certifications and Labels: Utilize third-party certifications and labels to validate sustainability claims and reassure consumers of a product’s eco-friendliness. Common certifications include Fair Trade, USDA Organic, Energy Star, and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for responsibly sourced wood products.
  • Educate and Empower Consumers: Educate consumers about the importance of sustainability and empower them to make informed purchasing decisions. Provide resources and tools that help consumers understand the environmental and social impact of their choices, such as carbon footprint calculators and ethical shopping guides.

Embracing sustainability – The new normal for product content

The global rise in consumer demand for product content about sustainability is a reflection of changing consumer preferences and values as concerns about climate change escalate. Consumers want transparency, authenticity, and accountability from the brands they support. By embracing these responsible business practices, retailers and brands can meet customer expectations to drive sales and build deeper customer loyalty by sharing their sustainability initiatives at both the product and corporate levels.

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