In a recent Bain & Company survey, a resounding 60% of businesses find themselves grappling with formidable challenges on the path to achieving their sustainability goals. This disconcerting revelation not only casts shadows on the corporate world’s dedication to environmental stewardship but also serves as a clarion call for an immediate and comprehensive reevaluation of sustainable practices. The report also unveils a significant shift in consumer dynamics, shedding light on an emerging trend where individuals display a heightened readiness to invest more in products and services that prioritize sustainability.
The Bain & Company report paints a disconcerting picture of the current state of sustainability in the business landscape. Disturbingly, over 60% of surveyed businesses find themselves “off track” in meeting their sustainability goals. This raises profound questions about the commitment of these entities to environmental responsibility and calls for collective introspection on a global scale.
It becomes evident from the survey that consumers, especially in fast-growing markets like India, are increasingly concerned about environmental sustainability. This heightened awareness could be a direct response to the escalating pollution levels in major Indian cities and the surge in flash floods across different regions. Strikingly, consumers in these markets demonstrate a willingness to pay a premium of 15 to 20 per cent for sustainable products, surpassing the enthusiasm seen in more developed markets such as the US and the UK.
Sustainability Consciousness in India
The report further delves into the nuanced landscape of sustainability consciousness in India. It highlights that while there is a growing interest in sustainability among Indian consumers, there exists a noticeable gap between intent and action. This gap is primarily attributed to hurdles such as high prices, limited product information, and restricted availability of sustainable options.
Karan Singh, Partner and Head of the Asia Pacific Sustainability practice at Bain & Company, underscores the opportunity for businesses in India to take the lead. He emphasizes the importance of educating consumers and innovating to make sustainable products more accessible and appealing in terms of pricing.
The report’s call for progress in sustainability goes beyond business practices; it advocates for a holistic approach that combines technological advancements, policy reforms, and shifts in consumer behaviour. The urgent need for change becomes even more apparent as the survey, which encompasses 23,000 consumers globally, highlights the escalating concern about sustainability, with almost 64 per cent expressing high levels of apprehension. This heightened worry is significantly attributed to the surge in extreme weather events witnessed over the past two years.
Age no bar for Sustainability
Interestingly, the report also dispels the myth that only younger generations are environmentally conscious. It reveals that consumers across age groups, including baby boomers, are equally concerned about sustainability. This challenges preconceived notions and underscores the universality of the shift towards environmentally conscious choices.
As consumers express their willingness to pay a premium for sustainable products, the report points out barriers that hinder the widespread adoption of sustainable practices. In the US, for instance, consumers are willing to pay an average premium of 11 percent for products with minimized environmental impact, despite the average premium for marketed sustainable products being as high as 28 per cent. This discrepancy suggests that while consumers are inclined towards sustainability, there are still obstacles, including pricing, that need to be addressed.
In conclusion, the Bain & Company report serves as a wake-up call for businesses globally, urging them to reevaluate their commitment to sustainability. The road ahead demands not only a shift in corporate practices but also a concerted effort to bridge the gap between consumer intent and action. It’s a call to action for businesses to lead the way in making sustainable choices more accessible, affordable, and aligned with consumer preferences.