Sustainability is important for brands. Our recent survey found that 75% of consumers in Europe are willing to pay more for sustainable products. But sustainability priorities differ across borders. Our interviews with consumers in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy revealed some of those differences. For example, health and well-being is the No. 1 sustainability concern in all of the countries except Germany, where the availability of local produce is a bigger issue. The Netherlands was the only country to rank animal welfare among the top three concerns.
In addition to addressing variations by geography, consumer goods companies face a host of complexities in delivering on sustainability needs. Consumers told us that they don’t always find sustainable alternatives in stores. Some said that there are limited options for sustainable products in many categories, that they perceive some sustainable goods as being lower quality, and that some products are promoted as sustainable in one area but are unsustainable in another. Consumers also told us they often have trouble understanding which products are sustainable.
To overcome these obstacles, the best companies define and promote their sustainability mission, invest to innovate sustainable products that can be offered at reasonable prices, collaborate with retailers to ensure that sustainable brands are available and highly visible in stores, and engage consumers with clear and targeted messages on packaging and via specific channels.