Overcoming the sustainability paradox: US consumers want brands to drive change

From more frequent and extreme storms and unprecedented heatwaves to global protests for equal rights and personal freedom, we are feeling the impact of human-caused pressure on planet and people. Our proprietary research with US citizens (November 2021) shows that 62% of US consumers share a feeling of concern about wasting the planet’s resources. Yet, Earth Overshoot Day comes earlier every year (14th March 2021 in the US).

While sustainability is a key concern amongst consumers, it appears many aren’t acting upon it. So where does the problem lie? What’s creating this sustainability paradox?

A first driver is the fact that sustainability is a holistic, all-embracing concept, making it a very complex matter for consumers. An overload of claims and labels around sustainability only adds to this complexity, fueling consumers’ eco-confusion.

A second dimension driving the sustainability paradox is the so-called ‘say-do gap’, where intentions are high, but actual behaviour is low. Research has shown that although 65% of consumers say they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, only 26% actually do. Based on our proprietary research, we identified four eco-barriers that are holding consumers back from living a more sustainable lifestyle: affordability, accessibility, performance, and convenience.

Brands can play an important role by breaking down these barriers and helping consumers install new, more sustainable habits. In fact, 63% of consumers feel brands have a responsibility to take care of the planet, as national leadership on sustainability is lacking in the US (57% of consumers believe the government is not doing enough).

Our Conscious Consumption report clearly demonstrates that US consumers want businesses and brands to step up; we need to solve our problems with ingenuity. This is a call for action. The time for brands to act is now, because in the end, good business is good business.


Curious for more?

You can read the full article at Or get inspired by Joeri Van den Bergh presenting the findings of our Conscious Consumption research, mixed with refreshing local case studies and illustrations.

Conscious Consumption

Conscious Consumption

Sustainability is a key concern amongst consumers, and this has only increased with the COVID-19 pandemic. This bookzine highlights some of the key barriers amongst consumers as well as their expectations towards brands, through proprietary research, expert interviews with sustainability executives from several industries, and brand illustrations.

Request your download

You might also be interested in

Patricia Yague of Live Nation

How the entertainment industry steps up to protect the planet – an interview with Live Nation

Written by Joeri Van den Bergh

There is no doubt that sustainability is high on Live Nation’s agenda. In 2021, for instance, the world’s leading live entertainment company, announced its Green Nation Touring Program. An interview with Patricia Yagüe, Head of Sustainability EMEA at Live Nation Entertainment.

Creating a sustainable world for pets, people and the planet, an interview with Royal Canin

Written by Joeri Van den Bergh / Sarah Van Oerle

Royal Canin strives to create a sustainable world for pets, people, and planet. But what does this mean? An interview with Fabrice Mathieu, Global sustainability director and administrator of The Royal Canin Foundation at Royal Canin.

Julia Beier from Beiersdorf

Transparency at the core of your sustainability agenda, an interview with Beiersdorf

Written by Joeri Van den Bergh / Sarah Van Oerle

Julia Beier, Sustainability Manager for Responsible Sourcing & Human Rights at Beiersdorf talks about how the brand creates transparency across its supply chain