BY Sam Laird

Mar 29th 2022

Sustainable LivingTaking Action

Businesses are Responding to Consumer Demands for Climate Action

Mar 29th 2022

Nearly 90 percent of American consumers believe individuals can positively impact climate change by altering their behavior, according to the inaugural Money Matters Report, released by Bank of the West on March 9.

The 2022 Money Matters Report from Bank of the West provides a fresh look into the relationship between people’s beliefs, their actions, their money, and the planet—and how businesses are responding. Conducted by research firm Material, Money Matters reveals how many Americans want more action on climate change—and that opportunities to take that action exist now, both for consumers and businesses.

Sustainability Is Becoming a Business Priority

A major way sustainability-minded consumers feel empowered to make an impact is by changing where they spend their dollars. And businesses are responding. While brands like Patagonia have long been outspoken about the environment, sustainability is now top of mind across the business world. Fifty-nine percent of business decision-makers include environmental sustainability as a key pillar of their CSR strategies. Seventy-seven percent say their company is acting to fight climate change. Still, 49 percent of decision-makers say businesses and corporations as a whole are not doing enough.

Importantly, the survey found, companies on the leading edge of the purpose-driven movement have found a new competitive advantage in the sustainability-saturated marketplace: finance.

Other key findings from the survey of business decision-makers include:

Consumers and Businesses Include Equity in Sustainability

The environment isn’t the only sustainability issue American consumers care about—they also have strong feelings about racial and gender equity. Gen Z leads here, too, as 88 percent say they are passionate about racial inequality and discrimination, compared to 79 percent of Millennials, 70 percent of Gen Xers, and 65 percent of Boomers.

Caring about racial and gender equity is reflected in how people of all ages shop and relate to businesses.

80% of Americans believe that a company taking action for diversity, equity, and inclusion in both the employee and customer experience is important to consider when shopping
86% feel the same about the importance of a company helping local communities
49% frequently or always shop with brands whose values reflect their own

These attitudes represent an opportunity for the business world. Fifty-nine percent of companies with CSR and ESG plans or current implementations reported increased profitability in the last two years—compared to 23 percent of businesses without such plans or programs.

A New Era in Conscious Consumerism is Underway

Consumers’ interest in using their money for good certainly isn’t new. But the Money Matters report shows how conscious consumerism is moving beyond purchasing the occasional eco-conscious product to a mindset that includes diversity, inclusion, and equity and affects everything they do with their money.

Consumers don’t just want to buy sustainable goods, but to patronize sustainable companies. And Gen Z, the new generation of consumers who will drive future demand, leads the way with a more comprehensive commitment to the conscious consumer lifestyle. As consumers continue to learn more about companies’ impact on the world, we can expect them to take even more action to direct their money toward brands that protect the planet and its people.

For a deeper dive into “Bank of the West’s Money Matters Report: Revealing the Sustainability Intentions Gap,” take a look at the full report.

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