Consumers are attaching ever greater importance to the aspect of sustainability in companies. Accordingly, this also influences consumers’ purchasing decisions.

In 2007, the term sustainability was only known to 67 percent of the population. Five years later, the figure is already 81 percent, as population-representative surveys conducted by the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research show. In 2012, 55 percent were able to correctly describe the term “sustainability” in terms of content. Almost every second citizen could not do much with the term.

Relevance of sustainability in purchasing decisions

A study by Facit and Serviceplan showed that the aspect of sustainability is becoming increasingly important for consumers. There, 69 percent of consumers stated that the aspect of sustainability influenced their purchasing decisions. Consumers are paying more attention to whether a company is taking on social responsibility. Only a small proportion of customers feel that sustainability is not relevant. This encourages many companies to rethink their value chains. The specific SIS target group analysis underscores the great importance of sustainability for consumers and shows the enormous potential for companies, e.g. in terms of changes relating to sustainability, specific product developments and communication.

Pursuing a sustainability strategy

It is of enormous importance for companies to pursue a long-term and above all credible sustainability strategy, to “live” corporate responsibility in the company at all levels and to communicate this effectively both internally and externally, especially against the background of the strong use of the concept of sustainability. Accordingly, it is not surprising that the top 10 of the SIS (Sustainability Image Score) 2017 almost exclusively include companies whose corporate culture consistently expresses the values associated with sustainability at all levels. It can be clearly seen that these companies are perceived by consumers as more trustworthy and long-term oriented. The brands include Miele in 1st place (77 percent), Erdinger in 2nd place (76 percent), Radeberger in 3rd place (75 percent), closely followed by Landliebe (75 percent) and Kneipp (75 percent).

72 percent of the consumers tested stated in SIS 2017 that they would pay more attention to baby food coming from sustainable sources. In the Ökotest 2017, baby food, as a highly sensitive product with high standards, is not convincing. This is how skepticism spreads among buyers. As a result, the Hipp brand recorded a 5 percent decline in consumer demand. Accordingly, the test result of Öko-Test has had an influence on the consumer behaviour of the customers. But not only the Hipp brand is affected, Alete (-3 percent) and Beba (-7 percent) also felt the decline.

What does a good sustainability image mean?

In the SIS 2017 statistics, 18,000 test persons, 166 of them per brand (fashionable), were interviewed by 109 companies from 15 sectors. In addition, the aspect was tested (2014-2017) which influence a good sustainability image has on the quality of performance, values, attractiveness, economic success, sustainability and leadership. The result: Sustainability influences the image with an increasing tendency. Furthermore, the aspect of sustainability also has an impact on brand loyalty. Whereas 0.15 percent were still measured in 2012, the percentage rose to 0.20 in 2017.

Liza Sander, future strategist and facilitator for social-ecological design processes, advises companies: “Act now and be one of the winners. Demonstrate acting for a higher purpose through fundamental change”.


You might be also interested in:

Kind + Jugend provides more transparency with a sustainability list

WGSN – Sustainability offers enormous potential in the resale market


Image: Luna Journal/Andrej Dallmann