Green consumption, 87% Italians take sustainability into account

Bcg report, but only between 1% and 11% of respondents say they pay more to buy green products and services

87% of Italian consumers take sustainability into account in their daily decisions. It is the highest percentage among the advanced economies. But only between 1% and 11% of the interviewees state that they pay more to buy green products and services. In short, the gap between saying and doing sustainable remains wide, in Italy as well as in all the other markets analyzed. This is what emerges from the Consumers Are Key to Taking Green Mainstream report, by Boston Consulting Group.

The analysis illustrates how managers need to transform sustainability from an alternative to an additional feature of desirable and affordable products. As Antonio Faraldi, Managing Director and Partner of BCcg explains, “brands interpret this gap between ‘saying and doing’ as if consumers did not translate noble ideals on sustainability into concrete actions and choices. In fact, research shows that many are still confused about their role in tackling climate change ”. From the research it emerges, in fact, that beyond i70% of the Italians interviewed declared themselves disillusionedthinking that the commitment to the environment declared by the companies only serves to improve the image and sales.

However, by analyzing all the phases of purchasing behavior, new consumer segments emerged: in addition to people willing to buy sustainable by paying a higher price and those only concerned about the environment, there are consumers ready to buy sustainable, albeit not at higher prices, and those who already adopt responsible behaviors (such as separate collection). By better targeting offer and communication, companies can earn these other two targets, made up of potential ‘sustainability stakeholders’. Sustainable products, BCG notes, have a higher Net Promoter Score (NPS) than unsustainable alternatives and the right value proposition can not only encourage people to act and buy sustainably, but also develop strong relationships and loyalty between consumers and the brand, encouraging word of mouth.

The adoption of sustainable purchasing behaviors is not monolithic, but changes according to goods and markets. In some product categories, for example, the adoption rate of green alternatives is higher than in others. In the field of household products, for example, around 60% of consumers globally are already adopting sustainable behaviors such as recycling or reusing packaging. In the field of mobility, on the other hand, 39% of respondents are committed to reducing emissions by limiting the use of private vehicles and buying smaller or more efficient cars.

There are also marked differences between the various countries. In Italy, the percentage of those who pay a ‘green premium’ and those who adopt sustainable behaviors is highest in the sector of household products, energy suppliers and catering, while it is low in the field of private transport, travel work and food retail. Conversely, in China the focus is high on the sustainability of cars and cosmetics, while Brazilian consumers care about the environmental impact of PCs and tablets. According to BCG, managers must grasp these specificities and then shape the offer accordingly.

Not only. An analysis of the market and consumer preferences is crucial to bridge the gap between saying and doing sustainable. First of all, it makes it possible to identify and underline the characteristics of the sustainable product that have the greatest impact on the local public. Italian consumers, for example, pay particular attention to car emissions. On the other hand, knowledge of preferences facilitates the establishment of a broader dialogue between the company and potential customers, aimed at highlighting the other desirable qualities of green alternatives. In the field of cosmetics, Italians are more attentive to the natural source of ingredients than to their geographical origin or the emissions generated by their production. Careful recognition of the context also makes it possible to identify compromises perceived rightly or wrongly by consumers and to take action to eliminate them. In fact, sustainability is often perceived by consumers as an alternative that involves a renunciation of pleasure or an increase in costs. “Those who do not buy green products imagine that we have a much higher premium than the actual one. It is up to the companies to deny them, to make it clear that sustainability and convenience are not necessarily incompatibleand that indeed, in many categories there is room for mass access to responsible products ”, concludes Faraldi.