14th Annual Consumer Report 2016 State of Sustainability in America


14th Annual Consumer Report

2016 State of Sustainability in America®

An annual consumer research study devoted to understanding consumer values and behaviors across health, the environment and corporate social responsibility, and their impact on purchase


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    • Multiple Division Site License: Includes PDF, PPT with access to charts and site rights for internal network usage across more than one company division/location.
      Price: $15,000 Order Report

Summary Table of Contents



14 Years of Sustainability Marketplace Insights

Over 135 pages of new research on consumer need states, attitudes, usage, and opportunities including data, charts, graphs, analysis, and commentary!

This report is the fourteenth annual U.S. report NMI has published on the state of the sustainability market.  It is full of insights, data, and analysis to help you better understand the ever-evolving world of environmentally-friendly, socially conscious, and healthy products and how consumers are integrating sustainability into their lifestyle.

This year, the underlying theme of the report explores the notion of the 'return on investment' (ROI) of sustainability initiatives. Many companies have been involved and are becoming more involved in the sustainability space, taking measures to ensure they are mindful of their impact on society, the environment and local and global communities.

Some uncertainty arises for companies, however, in how to measure what type and how much of an impact, if any, these sustainable initiatives are having.  In essence, are these sustainable initiatives having a positive impact on the environment or the company and how can the impact be measured?  Even further, have these initiatives transformed consumer perception regarding the company and, if so, are they measurable changes?  This report addresses these questions and ultimately provides background and consumer insights to begin the ROI journey.

In addition, the intent of this report is to provide a solid overview of where the current sustainable marketplace stands, in addition to...

  • how consumers interact in the green marketplace
  • what product benefits and attributes are driving consumers to choose sustainable over conventional products
  • how segments within society view sustainability differently and what motivates this differentiation
  • what are some of the barriers to being 'green'
  • what are the opportunities for future growth
We hope you enjoy this report, and that it both grounds you in market trends as well as sparks new ideas of how you can explore opportunities and develop strategies in this thriving marketplace.

Executive Overview of the Sustainability Marketplace

  • Sustainability is not a trend, it is becoming a cultural shift.  All organizations, therefore, will need to realize that sustainability is not just a desired activity but a necessary strategy.
  • Consumer segments in the population exhibit various shades of green that are led by the “greenest” segment, the LOHAS segment, who is integral in driving sustainability to the mainstream.
  • Consumers are increasingly looking beyond the product and service and show strong interest in companies’ sustainable initiatives.  Almost all products and services going forward will need to consider consumer motivations regarding eco-friendliness.
  • The return on investment of sustainability also has an economic component both in financial savings for the company and increased brand value, increased sales, and reduced risk.
  • Globalization will drive the need for more alignment of fair labor practices, ecosystem protection, sustainable farming, energy resourcefulness and many other practices.
  • Water conservation is a top concern for consumers and is fast becoming a major economic, political and social issue – companies will need to respond with a range of initiatives and innovations.
  • Packaging not only can “message” a company’s e-friendly initiatives, but the type and amount of packaging also speaks of a company’s environmental orientation; make sure packaging choices align with company sustainable strategies.
  • Consumers are significantly more likely to feel that “no one” is currently protecting the environment, creating an opportunity for the establishment of such a leader.
  • Consumer skepticism regarding a company’s sustainable efforts prompts consumers to seek solid proof of their legitimacy – make sure “transparency” is front and center as consumers evaluate company claims and messaging with more scrutiny.
  • Eco-consciousness will continue to deepen as consumers find it easier and more important to take action – brands that facilitate that behavior will be rewarded by consumers who seek to align their purchases with their personal values, morals, ethics and belief systems.

U.S. Sustainability Consumer Trends Database® Overview


u.s. sustainability consumer trends database overview image

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


  • 4,000+ U.S. adults in 2015, nationally projectable to the U.S. adult population and accurate at the 95% confidence level to +/- 1.2%
  • Conducted online
  • 56,000+ U.S. consumers in database
  • Throughout this report, compound annual growth (CAG) is calculated and shown as available and relevant
  • Statistical significance at the 95% confidence level between mutually exclusive groups is indicated with capital letters

Definitions of Groups Within the Report

GP - General Population U.S. Adults 18+
Millennials - born 1977-1998 (Ages 18-37)
Gen X - born 1965-1976 (Ages 38-49)
Boomers - born 1946-1964 (Ages 50-68)
Matures - born 1900-1945 (Ages 69+)
LOHAS - a segment of consumers defined as "Lifestyles Of Health and Sustainability"
LOHAS Leaders - the portion of LOHAS consumers who exhibit the highest integration into the sustainable lifestyle
LOHAS Followers - the portion of LOHAS consumers who are highly engaged in the sustainable lifestyle but show lower integration than the Leaders due to some price sensitivity and uncertainty
Sustainable Mainstream - consumers within the population that fall in the NATURALITES, DRIFTERS, or CONVENTIONAL segments who are adopting some sustainable attitudes and behaviors and feel somewhat empowered they can make a difference

All data is sourced from NMI's Sustainability Consumer Trends Database® (SCTD) unless otherwise noted   


Table of Contents


Definitions of Groups

U.S. Sustainability Consumer Trends Database Overview


Executive Overview

NMI's Sustainability Segmentation

Five Distinct Segments within the Population

Overview of the Sustainability Segments

Understanding of Sustainable Mainstream

Key Differences between Sustainable Mainstream and LOHAS

Sustainability Product Process

Product Adoption across Segments

Trended Shifts in Segment Composition

The LOHAS Consumer Profile

LOHAS Leaders and Followers

The NATURALITES Consumer Profile

The DRIFTERS Consumer Profile

The CONVENTIONALS Consumer Profile

The UNCONCERNEDS Consumer Profile

Demographic Summary across Segments

The Return on Investment of Sustainability Initiatives

Sustainability as Part of the Business Equation

The Relationship between Brand Equity and Sustainability Rating

The Business Case for Sustainability

The Sustainability Product/Service Life Cycle

Forces Driving the Need for Sustainability Initiatives

Corporate Initiatives in Building Brand Equity

Impact of Corporate Initiatives on Product Purchase

Consumer Interest in Company Environmental Initiatives

Consumer Interest in Company Social Initiatives

Interest in Global vs. Local Initiatives

Issues that Would Have the Most Impact on Purchase

Impact of Cause Support on Purchase

Influence of Corporate Practice on Purchase

Consumer Skepticism of Corporate Motives

The Need for Corporate Transparency

Perceived Leaders in Sustainability

Desire for Corporate Leadership Regarding Sustainability

Impact of Corporate Concern for the Environment and Society

Consumers' Green Attitudes Are Growing


Consumer Engagement in Sustainability

Belief that Sustainability Is Here to Stay

Living "Green" across Segments

Personal Responsibility for the Environment

Level of Being Informed about the Environment

Impact of Children in Household on Environmental Orientation

Awareness of Environmental Terms

Daily Environmental Behaviors

Consumer Attitudes Toward Waste

Impact of Cost Savings on Environmental Protection

Concern Regarding Environmental Issues

Concern Regarding Environmental Issues across Segments

Concern Regarding Social Issues

Concern Regarding Social Issues across Segments

Consumer Guilt over Non-Action

Quality of Life due to Environmental Situation

Parental Responsibility for Current Environmental Issues


Global Concerns

Visible vs. Non-Visible Environmental Issues

Attitudes Toward Global Warming

Impact of Human Activity on Global Warming

Recognition and Impact of Fair Trade Certification

Concerns Regarding Global Workers

Concern over U.S. Immigration Policies

Concerns Regarding Destruction of Vegetation and Wildlife

Concern Regarding Water Quality and Conservation

Concern Regarding Chemicals in Consumer Products

Reasons for Lowered Concern for Environmental Issues

Perceived Credibility of Environmental Organizations


Energy Use

Concern over Fuel Options

Concern over Waste from Energy Production

Desire for Renewable Energy Use

Energy Saving Device Installation

Investigation and Purchase of Alternative Energy Methods

Ownership of E-Friendly Vehicles


Purchase Decision Dynamics of E-Friendly Products

The Economic Component of E-Friendly Product Choice

Purchase Drivers of E-Friendly Products

Purchase Drivers of E-Friendly Products among LOHAS consumers

Environmental Impact of a Product Life Cycle

Desire to Purchase E-Friendly Products

Consumers' Lack of Desire to Sacrifice

Confusion over Green Seals

Recognition and Impact of Green Seals

Perceived Lack of Availability of E-Friendly Products

Purchase Dynamics of E-Friendly Products

Barriers to E-Friendly Purchase

Barriers to E-Friendly Purchase across Consumer Groups


Engagement in E-Friendly Products

Early Adoption of E-Friendly Products

Interest in Green Versions of Consumer Products

Trended Interest in Green Versions of Consumer Products

Interest in Green Versions of Consumer Products across Groups

Initial Eco-Friendly/Green Product Purchased

Purchase of E-Friendly Products across Generations

Importance of Household Cleaning Products

Growth of Importance of Household Cleaning Products

Purchase of Natural/Organic Personal Care

Importance of Personal Care Attributes

Willingness to Pay a Premium for Personal Care E-Initiatives

Purchase of Organic Foods/Beverages

Importance of Food/Beverage Attributes

Growth of Importance of Food/Beverage Attributes

Willingness to Pay a Premium for Food/Beverage E-Initiatives

Purchase of Natural/Organic Pet Food


Shopping and Influencers

Influence of Peers on Purchase

Social and Environmental Impact of Shopping Behavior

E-Friendliness of Purchasing Online vs. Brick and Mortar Stores

Desire to Buy E-Friendly Products at Walmart

Use of Overseas Suppliers to Save Money

Influencers of Sustainable Purchase

Level of Trust across Media Sources

Channel Shopping Behavior


Packaging and Recycling

Concern about Packaging Filling Landfills

Interest in Companies' Waste Reduction Practices

Concern Regarding Overpackaging

Perceived E-Friendliness of Types of Packaging

Recycling Behavior of Product Types

Recycling of Hazardous Household Items

Use of Recycling Methods


E-Friendly Employment

Interest in Company Initiative to Support Employee Welfare

Location-Dependent Environmental Friendliness

Awareness of Employer Sustainability Initiatives

Awareness of a Green Team at Current Job

Interest in Employer Sustainability Initiatives across Industries

Interest in Employer Sustainability Initiatives by Size of Company

Interest in Employer Sustainability Initiatives by Groups


For more information, kindly contact Steve French, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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