What’s next for sustainability in marketing after a year of amazing resilience?

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, things did not look good in making the market more sustainable. People panicked, buying and transporting large quantities of pantries and picking up all the products that were still on the shelves. In the frenzy, loyalty began to wane as a volatile economy strained consumers’ wallets, potentially impacting their willingness to pay a premium for environmentally conscious brands.

However, research indicates that the need for sustainable products is ​​in the market – an industry that was a niche that gained more recognition in mid-2010 – despite testing by COVID-19. These products will outperform their conventional competitors in 36 categories by 2020, according to a report by IRI and the NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business. The overall vertical gained 0.7 percentage points to 16.8% of total purchases on an annual CPG sales banner.

“Sustainably marketed products not only held up but outperformed the CPG as a whole,” said Randi Kronthal-Sacco, senior researcher in marketing and business awareness at the NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business and author of the report. “Sustainably marketed products survived the pandemic and, in many cases, thrived.”

Why is the industry so popular despite the obvious challenges? One way to understand the trend is to break away from conventional thinking about CPG. According to Kronthal-Sacco, sustainably traded products are generally inelastic and less sensitive to price fluctuations than conventional high-speed consumer goods, which are currently experiencing increased inflation. It may be more instructive to see sustainability labels behave like luxury industries, where people are willing to pay more and buy in smaller quantities. This is especially true for millennials, high-income, educated, and urban groups when it comes to sustainability, according to the IRI and NYU Stern report, although older age groups such as baby boomers and Generation X are responsible ​​for “large sustainable risk.” “Spend” dollars.

“Generational differences can be seen in the definitions of sustainability, attitudes and purchasing behavior,” wrote Larry Levin, executive vice president of consumer and buyer marketing at IRI, in the study. “Brands and retailers need to be able to optimize packaging, labels, websites, and messages to reach a more sustainable and targeted audience.”

At the same time, the demand for sustainable products is ​​increasing as consumers look every day for ways to reduce their impact on the environment. Last summer brought record heat waves, wildfires, and intense floods, making the catastrophic effects of climate change harder to ignore. Brands are also feeling the pressure to take greater measures to tackle the crisis – the past few months have generated a flurry of promises to rethink everything from packaging design to agricultural practices – and can make their solutions a more important part of marketing the pandemic continues to decline.

“People who are personally affected by climate and climate change in a broad sense have certainly become one of the main issues that individuals recognize,” says Kronthal-Sacco. “For that reason, I think there’s been a huge increase in consumer interest and a huge increase in interest from manufacturers and retailers to provide more sustainable supply chains – and more sustainable products.