US consumers believe it is important companies act sustainably and are willing to pay a premium for brands that demonstrate this, with Patagonia, The North Face and adidas all scoring highly in the new Stifel Sustainable Lifestyle Brands Index.
A survey by research firm Stifel, in conjunction with Morning Consult, found 83% of respondents believe it’s important for brands to act sustainably, with 39% considering it “very important”. The survey of 4,756 active/casual lifestyle brand consumers aged 18-55 also found 71% care more now about buying sustainable products than a year ago.
Around 58% intend to buy fewer products for the sake of sustainability, while nearly three-quarters (73%) consider sustainability factors when choosing between brands.
More than two-thirds (67%) are willing to pay more for brands with leading sustainability practices, and half (52%) regularly opt for more expensive products because they are more sustainable.
Some of the top sustainability priorities respondents consider “very important” include giving workers fair pay and benefits (60%), supporting racial equality (48%), and protecting local environments and ecosystems (43%). Nearly half (46%) have either boycotted or stopped buying a brand or product specifically because of sustainability concerns.
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“We believe consumer appreciation for sustainable brands is reaching an inflection point,” says Jim Duffy, managing director and sports and lifestyle brands analyst at Stifel. “The empowered and connected consumer is armed with more available information about products and brands than ever before, and we are seeing increasing emphasis on sustainability in personal values and buying behaviour.”
In conjunction with the survey, Stifel has launched its ‘Stifel Sustainable Lifestyle Brands Index’, which ranks brands based on US active/casual lifestyle consumer perception of brand sustainability practices. Brands were measured according to three metrics of sustainability: environmental, social, and ethical business practices.
Patagonia (No.2), The North Face (No.3), Adidas (No.4), and Allbirds (No.5) all featured high on the list, while Puma featured in a four-way tie (No.7) with Rothy’s Yeti and Columbia. Comfort-focused sock brand Bombas topped the list at No.1.
Newer brands that have staked their brand identity on matters of corporate responsibility and environmental sustainability include sustainable footwear and apparel company Allbirds, which scored exceptionally well in the Index, indicating effective messaging with the category purchasers in the US.
The Index also highlights the evolved sustainability practices and effective communication of leading outdoor brands Patagonia, The North Face, and Columbia, as well as European athletic lifestyle brands with advanced sustainability initiatives Adidas and Puma.
“Brands will continue to compete on innovation, product quality, customer experience, and value, but sustainability is becoming another key factor in the minds of consumers,” adds Duffy.