2023 Sustainability Trends - Consumer Insights Report

144 pages of the Natural Marketing Institute’s research, a study supported, providing current consumer insight with market research data and analysis, including charts, graphs, and illustrations!


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Sustainable Trends - 21 Years of Marketplace Consumer Insights

NMI's report is the 21st annual U.S. report Natural Marketing Institute has published on the state of the sustainability market. The report measures and describes the marketplace for sustainable products and services, the consumers who use them, consumers’ expectations of corporate behavior, and attitudes toward environmental and social issues.

In addition, it uncovers consumer motivations and the challenges they encounter in their pursuit to become increasingly aligned with a more sustainable lifestyle.

The past few years have been challenging for consumers. They have had to deal with a global pandemic, a turbulent economy, historically high inflation, global political turmoil, food shortages, and empty store shelves. In response, consumers are taking inventory and realizing that aspects of their previous way of life may be unsustainable, which is prompting a reorganization of priorities and formation of innovative behaviors realigned with a more thoughtful, sustainable and healthier lifestyle.  Therefore, when viewing trends within this report, it is important to note that some shifts in attitudes and behaviors may be reactive responses to current events while others have staying power and may be more permanent shifts. 

That said, consumers continue to hold strong attitudes toward environmental protection and are taking small but progressive steps toward incorporating more sustainable and environmentally-friendly behaviors into their lifestyle. In effect, while consumers may exhibit some anxiety about global and national issues, they realize that sustainability is not something that can be put on hold. In fact, since much of their anxiety may be driven by a sense of helplessness, being sustainable and taking part in green behaviors helps them feel a sense of control and purpose for the greater good. Even further, consumers are making purchasing decisions based on a growing set of values-based qualities from toxin-free to fair trade.  Therefore, the need for an understanding of consumer drivers that affect behavior patterns has never been stronger.

In this report, we uncover green consumer insights into what may lie ahead and provide perspective on the trends within the sustainability market from a consumer point of view.  

Some of the Sustainable topics covered in this consumer report:


  • Consumer insights regarding the health of the planet and what issues resonate most with them
  • How segments within society view sustainability differently and what motivates this differentiation
  • Behaviors consumers are adopting to live more sustainably
  • The feasibility of a “circular economy”
  • Consumer attitudes toward plastic and packaging
  • Interest in corporate initiatives
  • Sustainable product purchase and interest in environmentally-friendly versions of categories
  • …and much more
2023-nmi-sustainability-consumer-trends -overview

Table of Contents

U.S. Sustainability Consumer Trends Database Overview
Other Natural Marketing Institute Databases

The Natual Marking Institute's Sustainability Segmentation

Sustainability Segmentation Model Methodology
Levels of Environmental and Sustainable Engagement
Segmentation Overview
LOHAS Consumer as Environmental Steward
LOHAS Mainstreaming Attitudes
The Sustainable Mainstream
Segments Engagement in Daily Sustainable Living
Segment Behavior Variations
Concern for Product Sustainability Compared to a Year Ago
Concern for Food Waste and Upcycling among Segments
Impact of Price of E-Friendly Products
Personal and Planetary Linkage
LOHAS Leaders and Followers
Levels of Environmental Engagement
Trended Segment Composition
The LOHAS Consumer Profile
The NATURALITES Consumer Profile
The DRIFTERS Consumer Profile
The CONVENTIONALS Consumer Profile
The UNCONCERNEDS Consumer Profile
Demographic Summary Across Segments


Consumer Concern and Action Surrounding Sustainability

Consumer Definition of Sustainability
Level of Living "Green"
Impact of Sustainability on Decision Making
Willingness to Make Personal Sacrifices for Environment
Participation in Sustainable Behaviors
Environmental and Social Concerns
Concern about Chemicals in the Environment
Water Concerns and Conservation
Energy Consciousness and Interest in Renewable Energy
Importance of Humane Animal Treatment
Concern about Hunger Locally and Globally
Food Waste and Upcycled Interest
Consternation Regarding Environmental Involvement
Desire to Do More for the Environment
Desire to Create Change for the Better


Agriculture, Biodiversity and Climate Change

Positive Outcomes During Lockdown
Concerns about Global Warming
Carbon Emissions Understanding
Importance of Biodiversity
Pesticides Impact on Soil Nutrition
Connection of Toxins and Rising Disease Rates
Concern Regarding Drought and Water Shortages
Concern Regarding Sustainable and Regenerative Agricultural Practices
Understanding the Differences across Agricultural Practices
Sustainable Living Through Organic and Regenerative Product Use
The Effect of Inflation on Organic Purchase
Concern over Cyberattacks on Agricultural Targets


Packaging, Plastic and Waste

Awareness of a Circular Economy
Concern about Waste
Recycling Attitudes
Concern about Plastic and Microplastics in Environment
Packaging Concerns
Interest in Companies' Packaging Initiatives
Alignment with a Refillable Economy
Environmental-Friendliness Ratings of Packaging Types
Benefits and Drawbacks of Refillable Packaging
Environmental-Friendliness Ratings of Packaging Types


Impact of Sustainability on Product Purchasing

Early Adopting and Influencing Behavior
Effect of Inflation on Purchase of Environmentally-Friendly Products
Skepticism Toward Green Labeling
Life Cycle Stage to Reduce Environmental Impact
Understanding of Forever Chemicals
Monitoring Product Chemical Content
Interest in Natural and E-Friendly Versions of CPG
Interest in Natural Versions of Household Product Categories
Interest in E-Friendly Versions of Household Product Categories
Importance Ratings of Household Cleaning Product Attributes
Household Cleaning Attributes Sorted by Importance
Purchase of Environmentally-Friendly Household Products
Barriers to Purchase of "Green" or Natural Cleaning and Laundry Products
Interest in Natural Versions of Personal Care Products
Interest in E-Friendly Versions of Personal Care Products
Importance Ratings of Personal Care Product Attributes
Personal Care  Attributes Sorted by Importance
Types of Personal Care Products Purchased
Use of Functional Food/Beverages
Importance Ratings of Food/Beverage Attributes
Purchase of Sustainably-Aligned Food/Beverages
Interest and Purchase of Natural, Organic, Sustainable Pet Food
Interest vs. Purchase of Environmentally-Friendly Products
Barriers to Purchase of Environmentally-Friendly Products
Interest in Products Using Gene-Editing Technology
Purchasing from the Resale Market


Influential Factors on Sustainable Purchase

Sources of Influence on Sustainable Purchase
Sources of Influence across Generations
The Growth in Sources of Influence
The Influence of Certifications
Recognition of Certifications
Influence of Certifications on Purchase
Influence of Certifications on Purchase by Generations
Trustworthiness of Types of Certifications
Interest in a Universal Certified Rating System for Sustainability
Influence of Price on Sustainable Purchase


Corporate Involvement: Movement Toward a Circular Economy

Perceived Leader in Environmental Protection
Corporations and Retailers as Leaders in Environmental Protection
Determining a Brand's Initiatives Prior to Purchase
Impact of a Company's Environmental Stance on Purchase and Loyalty
Impact of a Company's Environmental Stance across Brand Users
Interest in Learning about a Range of Company Initiatives
Methods Used to Determine a Company's Sustainable Stance
Company Boycotting Due to Lack of Environmental Responsibility

Social Sustainability

Shopping Patterns
Channel Shopping Across Generations
Online Grocery Shopping
Online Research and Mobile Device Grocery Shopping
Growth in Channel Shopping Across Generations
Sustainable Initiatives Which Prompt Increased Store Shopping
Sustainable Initiatives Which Prompt Increased Store Shopping Across Retail Shoppers
Importance of Clean, Pure Product Merchandising
Category Shopping Across Retailers

Green Shopping Behavior

Online Grocery Shopping
In-Store Shopping Frequency
Retailer Shopping across Food User Types
Preference for Natural and Sustainable Merchandising across Shoppers
Likelihood to Shop Stores Which Carry Sustainable Products
Attitudes Toward Use of Plastic Grocery Bags
Attitudes Toward Use of Plastic in Stores
Use of Energy-Saving Initiatives in Stores
Impact of Inflation on Organic Purchase across Retail Shoppers
Impact of Inflation on Dining Out and Junk Food Purchase
Trended Channel Shopping


Segmentation Consumer Model - Sustainability Methodology

Development of the Institute’s unique and proprietary segmentation model began with evaluating over 170 different attitudinal and behavioral variables, later narrowed to approximately 21.

This segmentation can be used to identify and predict segment membership as part of a quantitative extrapolative analysis of future consumer behavior.

5 Unique Segments: each segment is mutually exclusive and is designed to have the maximum differentiation between consumer groups and the maximum homogeneity within each consumer group. The predictive accuracy is high at 86%.

The segmentation has been overlaid on third-party data sets such as Nielsen’s Homescan and can be used through the Institute in custom/primary qualitative or quantitative research.


U.S. Sustainability Consumer Insights Database® (SCTD) Overview


  • Quantifies the size of the consumer market for environmentally and socially responsible products and services

  • Measures the importance of environmental and societal issues as well as corporate social responsibility

  • Explores environmentally conscious behavior

  • Determines consumer usage of sustainable products and services and quantifies purchase criteria

  • Annual tracking study in U.S. since 2002 and globally since 2005

Report Methodology:

  • 4,013 U.S. adults in 2022, nationally projectable to the U.S. adult population and accurate at the 95% confidence level to +/- 1.2%

  • Conducted online

  • Fielded September 2022

  • Report released January 2023

Natural Marketing Institute Database:

  • U.S. Trending since 2002 and Globally since 2005

  • Conducted in 15+ countries; 150,000+ global consumers interviewed

U.S. Sustainability Consumer Database

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