Cost of living is high but consumers say they’re willing to pay more for sustainable products: study finds

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Research from Monash Business School’s Australian Consumer and Retail Studies (ACRS) latest Retail Sustainability Spotlight has found that over half of Aussie shoppers say sustainability is an important factor when making a retail purchase.

Despite the increases to our cost of living, the research confirms Australian shoppers are becoming more conscious of what they buy; voting for sustainable products, with their wallets.

Leading this research is Stephanie Atto, Research and Strategy Director at Australian Consumer and Retail Studies.

“The most interesting finding is the difference between how various age groups – particularly younger and older shoppers – differ in their views and the magnitude of their behaviours towards sustainability,” said Ms Atto.

“Younger consumers,18 to 34 years of age, are significantly more willing to pay for ethically produced products, as well as products made from recycled materials and packaged in recyclable materials.

“They also take public transport, buy second-hand products, and recommend eco-friendly products to friends, family and peers more than other age groups.

“Older Australian shoppers, aged 55 and over, tend to bring their own shopping bags to stores, recycle product waste, buy locally sourced or produced products, and compost food waste significantly more than other age groups.”

Grocery and related products, apparel, such as clothing, footwear, and accessories are the most common retail purchases amongst Aussie shoppers.

Ms Atto said quality and longevity were notable factors in purchasing behaviour.

“The sustainable factors that are most important to Australians when making a retail purchase are durability (85 per cent) and repairability (73 per cent),” she said.

“Consumers also felt it was an important factor if products are locally produced (64 per cent), ethically produced (62 per cent), and packaged in recyclable materials (59 per cent).

“This can be seen in companies’ efforts to make sustainability a priority and make it easier for consumers to make good consumption choices.

“While sustainability perceptions and practices may differ amongst shoppers, the positive shifts in attitudes and behaviours of government, businesses and individuals are a step in the right direction to pave the way to a better future for all.”

About the research

ACRS conducts annual research, known as the ACRS Retail Monitor, into Australian consumers’ shopping preferences, attitudes and behaviour. As part of this larger retail study, data on sustainability was collected from n=1,001 randomly selected Australian shoppers in June 2023.

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