Environmental concerns have become more important to consumers, leading many companies to design products around sustainability principles. But there's a big question that remains to be solved: Will a broad segment of society pay a premium to feel better about the environment?
A 2017 study in the Journal of Mechanical Design revealed that people were more willing to buy green if a product highlighted sustainable features, which appealed to consumers' environmental consciousness. A 2015 Nielsen report found 45 percent of global respondents were willing to pay more for an environmentally friendly product, and 41 percent were willing to pay more for environmentally friendly packaging. Unilever even conducted its own study and highlighted sustainable purchasing while promoting its own sustainable efforts.
"[Consumers] just care more about the environment," said Billy Pizer, Ph.D., a professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke and faculty fellow in the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. "Environmental problems are more palpable now than they were 10 or 15 years ago." Pizer believes increased media attention to problems such as pollution and climate change also has contributed to awareness.