Searches for sustainable goods grow by 71%, new report reveals

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A growing number of people around the world are concerned about nature, changing the way they think about sustainability and demanding action to protect the planet, new global research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by WWF shows.

Findings of the “Eco-wakening: Measuring global awareness, engagement and action for nature”-report include a 71% rise in popularity of searches for sustainable goods over the past five years, with continuing growth even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new report shows a surge in consumer clicks for sustainable goods in high-income countries, such as the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and Canada.

However, the research shows that this trend is accelerating in developing and emerging ones, like Ecuador (120%) and Indonesia (24%), creating new market opportunities for companies, particularly in the cosmetics, pharmaceutical, fashion and food sectors.

Sheila Bonini, senior vice president of private sector engagement at WWF in the United States, commented on the findings: “Sustainable and planet-friendly products used to be a niche market. Today, that’s no longer the case.

“This research backs up what we’ve seen anecdotally over the years — demand is there.

“Thankfully many companies are answering this call, either by offering more responsible products or, even better, transforming their entire value chain to prioritize the environment.

“From sourcing to production, consumers want to trust that what they buy is sustainable.

“For companies that aren’t yet there, this research proves that it’s time to act or be left behind in the marketplace.”

According to the report, public interest in and concern for nature has risen markedly (16%) in the past five years and has continued to grow during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report, which analyses data from 2016-2020, measures engagement, awareness and action for nature in 27 languages, across 54 countries, covering 80% of the world’s population.

According to the researchers, consumer behaviour plays a critical role in driving change and demonstrating care for nature, and this pressure has compelled brands to make and keep substantial sustainability commitments.

For instance, over 50% of C-Suite executives say that consumer demand is driving the focus on sustainability in the fashion and textile industry.

As a result, 65% of organisations in a recent survey said they had committed to sourcing sustainably-produced raw materials, and 60% now collect data on supply chain sustainability, including the use of water and other natural resources in their production processes.

The ‘Eco-awakening: Measuring awareness, engagement, and action for nature’-report can be read on the WWF-website.