Sustainability Sells

The Sustainable Share Index finds that sales of products marketed as sustainable are on the rise.

IN THE U.S., it has become profitable for companies to market products as sustainable, according to data in the Sustainable Share Index, an analysis of consumer purchases of products marketed for their environmentally friendly attributes. The index has been established by the Center for Sustainable Business at the New York University Stern School of Business in New York City and the marketing data firm IRI.

Using point-of-sale data provided by IRI, NYU Stern researchers analyzed U.S. consumer purchases across 36 product categories, which represented approximately 40 percent of total consumer goods sales. Categories such as tobacco and alcohol were excluded.

Researchers found that, since 2013, sales of goods marketed as environmentally friendly have accounted for 50.1 percent of the growth in the sales of consumer-packaged goods (CPGs). Goods marketed as sustainable accounted for 16.6 percent of the total CPG market in 2018, compared to 14.3 percent in 2013.

Sales of products marketed as sustainable generated US$113.9 billion in 2018, up 29 percent from 2013. Sales for products marketed as sustainable grew 5.6 times faster than sales for conventional products—and 3.3 times faster than the overall CPG market. In more than 90 percent of the categories examined, products marketed as sustainable outpaced total category growth.

“CPG companies should take notice,” says Randi Kronthal-Sacco, senior scholar in marketing and corporate outreach at the center and lead researcher for the study. “The benefits of sustainability cannot be ignored.”

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