Is durability a more sustainable selling point than sustainability?
While surveys show that sustainability is important to consumers, the issue still has a long way before making it onto customers’ immediate priority lists, according to a study from Avery Dennison. Instead, the survey concludes that championing durability will likely do better in connecting consumers’ needs with the needs of the planet.
The survey of 7,500 consumers found just 16 percent putting sustainability in their top three considerations for buying products in beauty, apparel and food categories. Thirty percent put it in the top five. Even in apparel, where fast-fashion has been tagged as an environmental hazard, only 28 percent listed sustainability in the top five factors informing their future purchases.
By comparison, durability, or the desire for longer lasting products, was ranked by almost 30 percent of consumers as a top three concern and 48 percent as a top five concern. Among the top five most important factors when making a purchase, only quality, cited by 67 percent, and cost, 60 percent, ranked higher.
Avery Dennison further noted that durability is a key component in quality as well as cost since longer-lasting goods save the consumer money.
On durability’s eco-benefits, the study notes:
- If a product lasts longer, it needs to be replaced less, meaning less waste — from workers and materials used to make it to the packaging waste at the end of its life.
- Products made to have a longer lifespan are more likely to be reused, recycled or upcycled.
The study stated, “This circular economy paradigm is a useful communication tool for consumers caught between a proverbial rock (cost of living concern) and hard place (climate change concern). There is an opportunity for brands to deliver on the promise of durability by framing their communications around a longer lifespan or second life.”
Beyond quality, cost and durability, other factors ranking higher among top-five purchase drivers than sustainability were availability, design, convenience, “makes me feel good” and brand reputation.
For firms, the study noted that optimizing sales will ultimately be required to support sustainability initiatives. Avery Dennison’s study said, “While businesses might talk about purpose over profit, when it comes to sustainable supply chain initiatives, profitability is still the driver.”
- Supply chain crisis made worse as 8% of stock ends up as waste, says report – Avery Dennison (press release)
- The Missing Billions – The real cost of supply chain waste – Avery Dennison (study)
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Would emphasizing durability in messaging work more effectively to drive sustainable purchases than focusing on sustainability itself? Is sustainability messaging overhyped as a purchase driver?