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Sustainability Efforts High on Consumer Lists During COVID-19

Posted on: July 22nd, 2020

Sustainability Efforts

As a direct result of COVID-19, and its restrictions on normalcy, people now find themselves with more time to think. When they do, they’re reminded of the fragility of our world and how important sustainability efforts truly are.

In a recent survey conducted by Kearney Management Consultants, participants were asked about their attitude towards environmental products and practices, and whether they had changed due to COVID-19.

Corey Chafin, a principal at Kearney’s global Consumer practice, says, “This year we see consumers expressing a more direct link between their health and the health of the planet. This tells us consumers’ pro-environmental sentiments are more than idealistic assertions. When it comes to the environment, consumers mean business.”

Additionally, the survey found that 78 percent of consumers now believe that companies could be doing more to help them make decisions that improve environmental outcomes.

While consumers may be inspired by the recent pandemic to increase their own sustainability efforts, there are challenges to this reality.

In an article by Denise Dahlhoff on strategy+business, she says, “The deep economic crisis the virus has caused is making shoppers more price-sensitive and forcing many companies to do whatever it takes to simply stay afloat. Companies, even those with sustainability in their DNA, might put some or all environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives on hold to stem revenue losses.”

While the momentum for the sustainability efforts at many companies may in fact cool off during these unprecedented times, many brands understand that the demands of environmentally conscious consumers – who are becoming the norm – are not going away.

It’s in their best interest to continue with the sustainability efforts they’ve initiative and plan for additional opportunities when the pandemic finally subsides in the foreseeable future.

Greg Portell, lead partner in Kearney’s global Consumer practice, says, “In the middle of a pandemic we see consumers telling us—loudly and clearly—that it’s not enough to cut a check to an environmental organization or have some polished messaging in the annual report. What’s important here is executing against those lofty positions in the form of very tactical solutions consumers will perceive as authentic during and after COVID-19. Consumers demand a lot more out of the companies they support.”

What are your organization’s sustainability efforts right now and how will you help influence today’s more environmentally conscious consumer in the future?

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