According to the Sustainable Global Growth and Shopper Expectations report by ESW, the global DTC e-commerce company, the highest-spending consumer cohorts, including cross-border shoppers, luxury goods purchasers, and Millennials, are strongly influenced by sustainability when making online purchases.

The study, based on data from over 16,000 shoppers across 16 countries, revealed that 83% of consumers consider sustainability as a key factor in their buying decisions. Furthermore, 91% of cross-border online shoppers prioritise sustainability, spending on average 4% more annually compared to domestic shoppers.

ESW’s chief executive officer for Europe and the UK, Martim Avillez Oliveira, said: “Today’s most coveted high frequency, high spending customers prioritise sustainability when buying online and are actively modifying their behaviour according to their desire to consume and buy in a more eco-conscious manner.  To reach these shoppers brands must prioritise sustainability, transparency and positive environmental practices from day one.”

The report highlighted that 39% of Gen Z shoppers and 34% of Millennials engage in cross-border shopping 12 or more times per year. Additionally, 73% of Millennials plan to maintain or increase their online spending in 2023, positioning them as the leading cohort in global e-commerce spending this year. Gen Z and Millennial respondents also displayed the highest consideration for sustainability, with 94% and 93% respectively, compared to 88% of Gen X shoppers and 77% of Baby Boomers.

When targeting cross-border markets, brands and retailers should note that young shoppers in countries like India, China, UAE, and Mexico prioritize sustainability criteria during their purchasing decision process. Across different product categories, luxury shoppers ranked sustainability as the most important factor (93%), followed by beauty (87%), consumer electronics (87%), and apparel (84%).

The study also revealed that environmentally conscious services such as sustainable packaging and delivery are significant considerations for online shoppers. Key references include:

  • Environmentally friendly packaging options -46%
  • Sustainable shipping – 43%
  • Reduced overall packaging – 42%
  • Green delivery options – 35%

Oliveira added: “Retailers can be sure customers will do more than virtue signal when it comes to sustainability with shoppers acting on their concerns for the environment. Brands know that making and distributing environmentally conscious products is expensive, but they don’t need to overhaul entire supply chains to satisfy shoppers’ sustainability demands.

“Working with partners and vendors, such as ESW, that offer carbon-neutral delivery and provide sustainable packaging helps brands meet customer expectations and support the ongoing global drive to limit the impact of consumption on the environment.”