According to the Global Footprint Network, humans are consuming resources at a rate of more than 1.7 times faster than the planet can regenerate them. While there are no simple solutions, this imbalance presents a significant opportunity to enable more sustainable lifestyles. Indeed, finding ways to engage and mobilize 8 billion people to live healthier and more sustainably is arguably one of the great priorities of this Decade of Action as the world works to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Results from GlobeScan’s 2020 Healthy & Sustainable Living study show that a gap remains between what people say that they want to do to live more sustainably and what they are actually doing. We need to recognize that there are still significant obstacles for most of us when it comes to aligning consumption with our values.
The study has been tracking consumer attitudes and behaviors since 2019, with annual surveys of over 25,000 respondents across 25+ countries around living healthier and more sustainable lifestyles. The research program has been collaboratively designed and launched with a range of partners — including CVS Health, IKEA, PepsiCo, Visa, and WWF International — to help better understand the mindsets of people globally and how to best help them make positive changes in their lives and for the planet.
Results of the study make it clear that climate change remains a top concern for most, with 60 percent of people globally saying it is a very serious issue — including 53 percent of US consumers. Concern about the climate and other environmental issues has remained constant over the past year, even in the context of the pandemic and subsequent economic impacts. Many consumers continue to feel guilty about their own environmental impact, with half saying that they would like to be “a great deal” more environmentally friendly.
Nevertheless, only one-quarter claim that they have made major changes to be more environmentally friendly in the past year, highlighting the significant gap between aspirations and current behavior. Consumers increasingly say that they are considering rewarding more responsible offerings by companies, but the proportion who say they have actually rewarded responsible companies has remained stubbornly constant over time.
So, what prevents consumers from living more in line with their values? GlobeScan has identified seven critical “unlocks” to help consumers to change their behaviors and start aligning their lifestyles with their values and aspirations.
1. Make it affordable
2. Make it credible
3. Make it shine
4. Make it “yes, and …”
5. Make it easy
6. Make it meaningful
7. Make it big
If brands are able to take action on each of these seven “unlocks,” it will help consumers to change their behaviors and start aligning their lifestyles with their values and aspirations. GlobeScan’s research shows that younger generations in particular are looking for brands to be transformative when it comes to social and environmental issues. There is a thirst for something more exciting and dynamic from the marketplace among younger people; and the more that brands are able to help bridge the gap between people’s aspirations and actions, the easier it will be for them to make the changes needed to help realize healthy, sustainable living at scale.