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Research: Getting To Know Today’s Socially Conscious Consumer

A study from Provoke Insights, in partnership with P2PI, determined that most Americans are socially conscious when making purchases, though they are not consistently buying the relevant items.
conscious consumer

The Path to Purchase Institute partnered with Provoke Insights, a global brand consultancy and market research firm, to study socially conscious consumers and their shopping habits for Provoke's bi-annual consumer trends study.

The study determined that most consumers (74%) are socially conscious when making purchases. In other words, they are making mindful decisions that consider ethics and the environment and supporting brands that contribute to a greater good. 

However, the research shows these Americans are not consistently buying these items. Only a tenth of these shoppers said they always purchase socially responsible brands.

conscious consumer
Source: Provoke Insights

Barriers for Socially Responsible Purchases
Cost is the largest barrier to purchasing socially responsible products (52% of respondents noted that). Only a fifth of respondents said they will pay more for sustainably sourced items. Those living in urban areas, Democrats, Millennials and parents are more willing to pay the premium. Lack of knowledge, variety and personal importance are also cited as barriers.

[Also Read: Shopper Sustainability Practices]

The economy is also impacting purchases, as those who buy sustainably sourced items say they are more budget conscious.

Other key findings from the research include:

  • "Made with clean ingredients" is the number one attribute that consumers consider when buying socially conscious products.
  • Gen Z and Democrats are most likely to look for clean ingredient attributes and those like it.
  • Companies focusing on charitable donations, minority-owned and B-corp certified were not highly considered factors.
  • However, a third (32%) of respondents said they will switch brands if the company does not align with their values. (Democrats, wealthier Americans, Millennials, parents and males are more likely to have this sentiment.)
  • Those who are purchasing sustainably sourced items say they are more budget conscious than six months ago.
conscious consumer
Source: Provoke Insights

Provoke Insights conducted a 15-minute survey among Americans ages 21-65 in the spring. A random stratified sample was used and weighted based on household income, age, gender, geography, ethnicity and children in the household to represent the U.S. population.

Download the full report here.

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