Inflation is putting US consumers"resolve' in the sustainability-price ratio to the test by mcogroup

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May 27, 2022

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Inflation is putting US consumers"resolve' in the sustainability-price ratio to the test by mcogroup

According to a recent Stifel poll, most consumers prioritize sustainability when making purchase decisions, but Americans are rethinking their spending priorities as the economy changes.

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While 81% of customers feel it is vital for businesses to act responsibly, just 64% are ready to pay extra for brands with leading sustainability policies, down from 67% last year. Consumers are preferring high value, cheap price, and reputation for durability when selecting active and casual lifestyle products, according to the report.

Consumers' sustainability priorities were constant with 2021, but other factors such as style, innovation, distinctiveness, and trendiness were ranked lower. What was trending, possibly as a respect to the present economic climate, was that 63 percent now explore pre-owned, secondhand, or refurbished products when shopping active and casual lifestyle brands.

"The vast majority of U.S. customers, and notably younger, Generation Z purchasers, value sustainability," said Jim Duffy, managing director and sports and leisure brands analyst at Stifel. "However, with inflation, we are being expected to pay more for everything." This is a test of customer commitment to pay a premium for brand qualities such as leading sustainability initiatives."

Stifel, in collaboration with Morning Consult, recently polled 4,679 active and casual lifestyle brand customers aged 18 to 55 in the United States. Notably, 56% check for information on a brand's sustainability practices when considering a purchase, 71% consider sustainability factors when deciding between companies, and 58% have purchased a new product expressly for sustainability reasons.

Giving employees fair pay and benefits, supporting racial equality, and conserving local habitats and ecosystems are among the top sustainability concerns that consumers consider "extremely essential."

The inflationary background has an impact on brand views, making customers more sceptical. In comparison to last year, more people believe businesses are more profit-focused, while fewer believe brands are expanding their attention on social concerns and good community effect.

The survey also polled 5,325 more active-causal lifestyle brand customers in the same age bracket from the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and China. Across all markets, at least four out of every five category purchasers believe it is critical that brands operate in a sustainable manner.

As example, 59 percent of French and 42 percent of Italian customers ranked sustainability as a "top three" purchase priority, compared to 31 percent of Americans. More than half of respondents in China, France, Germany, and Italy had boycotted or stopped purchasing a brand or product due to sustainability concerns, compared to only 45 percent of British customers and 41 percent of Americans.

Stifel revised its Sustainable Lifestyle Companies Index in line with the poll, which evaluates brands based on active-casual lifestyle customer perceptions of brand sustainability efforts in the United States.

"Consumer appreciation for YETI and Hydro Flask's commitment to the eradication of single-use plastic demonstrates that customers respect the beneficial impact of product and environmental initiatives, as well as efforts to reduce resource use in the supply chain," Duffy added.

Stifel Financial Corp. is a financial services holding corporation located in St. Louis that operates via many fully owned subsidiaries in the banking, securities, and financial services industries.

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