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Sustainability drives the choices of 9 out of 10 consumers

IBM study conducted in nine countries around the world

The Covid-19 pandemic has increased consumers' attention to sustainability and spurred the willingness to pay out of their own pockets to ensure a sustainable future, according to a new survey conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value (Ibv). The study was conducted by interviewing over 14,000 adults around the world from nine countries (US, India, UK, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Brazil and China) in March 2021. 9 out of 10 consumers reported that the pandemic has influenced their point of view on environmental sustainability, ranking first among the factors mentioned, even before environmental disasters, meteorological events and news on the topic. The survey also revealed some important differences of opinion among consumers in different geographies: Americans, for example, are the least concerned about the sustainability of their lifestyle. In fact, only 51% of US consumers said tackling climate change is very or extremely important, compared to the 73% average found in other countries.

The survey highlighted how environmental sustainability is now an influential variable in the way people shop and travel, and even in decisions relating to career and personal investments. Many employees interviewed are willing to accept a lower salary to work for sustainability-conscious businesses. According to the study, 71% of employees and job seekers say they are more attracted to environmentally conscious companies. In addition, more than two-thirds of the entire potential workforce surveyed are more likely to apply for and take jobs at environmentally and socially responsible organizations, and nearly half of respondents would accept a lower salary to work for such organizations. At the same time, 48% of consumers surveyed trust the commitments declared by businesses in relation to sustainability, and 64% of respondents expect greater public scrutiny on compliance with these resolutions in the year to come.

As 1 in 4 employees plan to change jobs this year, as evidenced by a study published in February 2021, companies face the growing risk of losing top talent to more sustainability-conscious competitors. 48% of all private investors surveyed already take environmental sustainability into account in their investment portfolios and a further fifth (21%) say they are likely to do so in the future. 59% of investors plan to buy or sell equity interests in the next 12 months based on environmental sustainability factors. 54% of consumers surveyed are willing to pay more for brands that are sustainable and / or environmentally responsible. Furthermore, 55% report that sustainability is a very or extremely important variable when choosing the company from which they want to buy a product or service, 22% more than consumers interviewed by IBM before the pandemic. Just over 6 in 10 consumers said they are willing to change their shopping habits to help reduce their impact on the environment: consumers in India (78%) and China (70%) are the most likely to change their tendencies. 82% of consumers globally would choose a more environmentally friendly, albeit more expensive, transportation option, but only 64% of American respondents agree with this statement compared to 95% of Indian respondents and 91 % of those in China.

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