Conscious Consumerism: Understanding the dilemmas of today’s consumer


Conscious consumerism: Understanding the dilemmas of today’s consumer

Choosing between affordability and sustainability

For an increasing number of consumers the impact of human actions on the environment is top of mind. What does this mean for your business? To what extent are these “conscious consumers” willing to pay extra for sustainable products? What are their main concerns and obstacles? And will the current economic uncertainty change the future demand for local, ethical and eco-friendly goods? Deloitte commissioned a research among Dutch consumers, you can find the results in our report ‘Conscious consumerism: Understanding the dilemmas of today’s consumer’.

The rise of conscious consumerism

Consumer behaviour changes rapidly, and often in unexpected ways. In order to make successful strategic business decisions, companies need to anticipate and respond to these shifts in consumer needs. Recently, we have seen the rise of Conscious Consumerism: consumers are making conscious choices about what, why and how to buy products and services. How does this translate to the Dutch market? Are Dutch consumers truly making more conscious choices — or are they just saying that they are? To what extent are they willing to pay extra for more sustainable products, and what do they expect from other parties – manufacturers, retailers, government, regulators – to enable them to make more conscious decisions?

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What does the Dutch consumer want?

In November 2022, we commissioned a consumer research among more than 2,000 Dutch consumers of age 18 and up, representing e.g., four age groups and various levels of income. The results show that Dutch consumers are clearly facing a dilemma. A vast majority is worried about topics such as climate change and believes that consumption reduction is key to protecting the environment. However, they are even more concerned about inflation and a looming recession. Zooming in on the various sectors within the consumer industry, a few observations stand out. These are included in our report Understanding the dilemma of today’s consumer. Here we discuss in detail what retailers, CPGs, OEMs, and companies in transportation, hospitality & services, can do to remain relevant and profitable while helping consumers make conscious choices. 

The government as the driving force

In all sectors of the consumer industry, consumers indicate that the role of the government is key to solving their dilemma. For instance, almost 70% of Dutch consumers believe that government should subsidise organically produced or sourced goods to make them more affordable. More than 60% claim that government should tax airlines proportionately, and encourage eco-friendly commuting. And almost half of them would like to have the amount of gasoline/diesel fuelled vehicles in the streets reduced in order to cut down emissions. However, when it comes to “rekeningrijden” (road pricing), there are more opponents than proponents (41% vs. 31%). Based on the above, the government will have to be the driving force behind conscious consumerism. Not per se by mandating unsustainable behaviour alone, but also simply by encouraging the right behaviour through more diversified taxation.

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If you have any questions or would like to discuss your opportunities, please contact us. Or download the full report above on this page to learn more about conscious consumerism and the dillemas of today's consumer.

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