Has the cost-of-living crisis killed the sustainability agenda?

Has the cost-of-living crisis killed the sustainability agenda?

Has the cost-of-living crisis killed the sustainability agenda?

May 2024, by Nicola Church

2021, the UK fell into a cost-of-living crisis; 3 years on and despite the slight reprieve in inflation over the last year, the crisis still impacts consumers on a daily basis. Food and non-alcoholic drink prices are now 30% higher than they were in April 2021, and between 2021 and 2023, the average weekly mortgage payment increased by almost 20%. As families struggle with debt and sacrifice essentials, has the drive for sustainability lost its momentum?

In the latest wave of our Say Do Sustainability Study (SDSS), we explore the impact that socioeconomic influences have on consumer engagement with sustainability. We found that only a fifth of UK consumers in lower income groups feel they are doing better than average in leading a sustainable lifestyle – significantly lower than their counterparts in higher socioeconomic groups, who have greater resources and financial flexibility to make sustainable choices. This gap reflects the real economic equation of our ability to act green; sustainable products often demand higher prices, and as disposable income drops, our ability to afford these products decreases.

So, does the cost-of-living crisis signify a setback for sustainability efforts?

A Collective Commitment

Despite the financial struggles many consumers are contending with, there remains a unified spirit of working together to do more. This desire transcends demographic differences and unifies consumers in a pursuit to improve the planet for future generations. Regardless of their income bracket, almost 90% of UK adults want to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, and active engagement in sustainability has increased, particularly amongst younger generations. Making sustainable choices isn’t an easy option – yet there is a clear acknowledgement that we must work together to make them.

Consumers are calling out for help from brands, governments, and organisations. We need to work together to achieve our goals.

Seeking Economic Solutions

The affordability crunch presents hurdles for consumers and companies, grappling with rising costs of raw materials, utilities, and transportation. Delivering cost-effective, sustainable products isn’t a straightforward task. However, there is a strong feeling amongst consumers that the onus of making sustainable choices cannot be placed solely on them. We need to work together; brands need to do more. They need to drive change and create accessible, cost-effective, sustainable initiatives that demonstrate a commitment to environmental leadership. Brands that place sustainability at the heart of their proposition and actively engage with consumers on the subject have an opportunity to position themselves as champions of the collective effort towards achieving sustainability goals – gaining a competitive edge and building customer loyalty.

Within the Say Do Sustainability Study, we explore this topic further and deep dive into consumer perceptions of 55 brands across 11 categories. To explore further and gauge how brands in your category fare, we invite you to reach out and schedule a meeting with us using the form below or find out more at: www.mm-eye.com/SDSS