Democratic Capitalism Better World Consumer Power

Being Intentional Pays Off

By Taylor Gray, Ph.D. on June, 27 2021

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Taylor Gray, Ph.D.

The world is a better place when companies are good corporate citizens. I remain focused on developing meaningful and actionable insights from empirical data in pursuit of a better world.

We spend a lot of time writing about how powerful consumer choice is, about how the brands we choose to buy from can help us bring about the world we want to see, and about why we want to be intentional in the impacts of our shopping. We also know there are plenty of brands that do not want us to be intentional in the impacts of our shopping, but here are a few developments that give us hope (and likely scare more than just a few of these laggard brands!).

Being intentional in the impacts of our shopping is now mainstream.


Signs of Success

A study jointly conducted by IBM and the National Retail Federation in 2020 found that 77% of consumers in the USA find it important that brands are sustainable and environmentally responsible. Furthermore, a full 57% are willing to change their shopping behavior to help reduce their overall environmental impact. In fact, there are now just as many people who identify as purpose-oriented shoppers (those who choose brands based on how well they align with their personal values) as there are value-oriented shoppers (those concerned with price and convenience and making sure they get their ‘money’s worth’). Being intentional in the impacts of our shopping is now mainstream.

With this shift in consumer shopping behavior, brands are now racing to catch up. Unilever (the parent company of so many household, food, and personal products) has long been committed to integrating sustainability into their decision-making and operations and they have largely done so brand by brand within their portfolio. Unilever has reported that, as of the close of fiscal 2017, their sustainable brands grew 46% faster than the rest of their business and were responsible for 70% of the company’s turnover growth over the preceding four-year period. These figures are clear indicators for Unilever--and nearly every other company--to roll-out their sustainability practices more widely across all operations.

We are all mobilizing the power of our consumer choice to make the world better and it is working

Even more recently, Adidas made it clear that sustainability was a pillar of their competitive positioning. During the company’s 2021 Annual General Meeting (AGM) (transcript here)--not in their CSR report or their marketing campaigns, but during the actual AGM--executives made it clear that their own market research demonstrated that 70% of consumers consider product sustainability to be an important factor in purchase decisions. 

Currently, six out of ten Adidas products are sustainable and the company is committing to increase this to nine out of ten products by 2025. Adidas CEO Kasper Rosted stated that “The consumer determines the trends in our industry”, and continued to list ‘sustainability’ as one of the top five consumer-trends the company was taking into account when developing their five-year strategic plan.

This is Progress...Let's Keep it Up!

Being intentional in the impacts of our shopping has not always been easy--and we started Motive to help make it easier--but it is important to take a step back from time to time to acknowledge just how much we have all accomplished. We are all mobilizing the power of our consumer choice to make the world better and it is working--some of the biggest brands in the world are following our lead, so let’s keep it up.


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