I think the question of whether or not consumers are beginning to prefer sustainable companies over ones that are not is fascinating.
We know that the distribution of U.S. consumers is largely becoming Millennials and Generation Z..
According to Wikipedia:
Millennials, also known as Generation Y or Gen Y, are the generationaldemographic [cohort](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cohort_(statistics%29) following Generation X and preceding Generation Z. There are no precise dates for when this cohort starts or ends; demographers and researchers typically use the early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years. Millennials are sometimes referred to as "echo boomers" due to a major surge in birth rates in the 1980s and 1990s, and because Millennials are often the children of the baby boomers. Although Millennial characteristics vary by region, depending on social and economic conditions, the generation has been generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies.
Generation Z or Gen Z, also known by a number of other names is the demographic [cohort](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cohort_(statistics%29) after the Millennials (Generation Y). There is no precise date for when Generation Z begins, but demographers and researchers typically use the mid-1990s to mid-2000s as a starting birth years. There is little consensus regarding ending birth years. Most of Generation Z have used the Internet since a young age and are comfortable with technology and social media.
Given this generational shift, it is interesting to consider whether or not being a sustainable brand is a growing differentiation. In a recent publication, Entrepreneur authors Michael Houlihan & Bonnie Harvey explain that:
An authoritative new study finds that regardless of product category, brands with legitimate sustainability claims do better.
The recent report that they address is by Nielson and is entitled "How and Why Sustainability is Gaining Momentum with Customers."
What Michael and Bonnie explain is fascinating:
For the purposes of this report, Nielsen chose to study purchases of three of the most common fast-moving consumer goods, coffee, chocolate and bath products, because of their differences from each other. What they found was that products with sustainability claims generally outperformed the growth rate of total products in their respective categories.
The interesting piece here is that they had so much difference between them. In reality not much of a relation at all other than a sustainability focus in their market. It would seem that in each category, leading as and being a sustainable company provides desirable differentiation and additional customer value.
Gartner's Bettina Tratz-Ryan explains that:
Many ICT offerings are positioned by providers as green products with energy efficiency or green labels at the heart of the value description. However, many customers are setting greener product features as part of their procurement benchmark, moving sustainability increasingly as a competitive differentiation for technology providers.
It is becoming clearer that companies who provide a sustainable product or service in their industry have an advantage to those who do not. What will happen to companies that do not go sustainable? Will they have a future in the circular economy?
Reality Changing Observations:
Q1. What was the last sustainable product you purchased and where did you purchase it?
Q2. Are you more likely to buy a sustainable product over one that is not? Why?
Q3. How do you believe consumer's expectation of sustainability will affect our future food supply chain?