Consumers around the world united – sustainable products cost more
June 28th, 2023, Bhavika Bansal

Consumers around the world united – sustainable products cost more

As many consumers across the world strive to make conscious choices that minimise their impact on the planet, the demand for eco-friendly or "green" products has soared. However, an ongoing debate lingers: do eco-products generally come with higher price tags, and more importantly, how far do consumers prioritize price over sustainability when making purchasing decisions? Understanding these dynamics can provide valuable insights for businesses, policymakers, and environmental advocates seeking to drive positive change in consumer behavior. 

Data from a recent YouGov poll conducted across 18 key international markets reveals that more than two out of three consumers globally (69%) believe that sustainable products are almost always more expensive. 

Significantly outpacing the global average, three out of four consumers in Italy (75%), Britain (74%) and Canada (74%) say they feel this is the case. 

Unlike their other North American counterparts, a tenth of consumers in Mexico (10%, the highest of all markets) disagree with the statement, while a fifth of American consumers (20%) hold a more neutral view.

Similarly, almost a quarter of consumers in Denmark (23%) say they neither agree nor disagree that eco-friendly products are usually costlier.

Nearly a third of consumers in Indonesia (32%) and China (31%) are still on the fence about the perceived higher prices of eco-products. On other hand, almost all other APAC consumers outweigh the global average in agreeing that sustainability generally comes at a higher cost. 

This interplay between price and sustainability carries profound implications for both consumers and the environment. Can this perception of higher prices deter consumers from embracing sustainable options?

For a majority of our global respondents the answer is yes. More than a fifth of consumers who say eco-products are more expensive ‘strongly agree’ that they prioritize price over sustainability (22%) while three out of eight say they ‘somewhat agree’ (37%). 

A closer look at the opinions of this group across markets reveals that consumers in Singapore (69%) are the most likely of all to prioritize price over sustainability while purchasing goods or services. This proportion drops significantly when it comes to consumers in China (60%), India (59%) and Indonesia (49%, the lowest of all polled markets).

Variances are also observed among European consumers who perceive sustainable products as more expensive. Nearly two-thirds of this audience in Spain (65%), Sweden (64%) and Germany (63%) give more importance to price compared to about half of respondents in France (51%) and Italy (50%).

While American respondents (66%) seemed more inclined towards price in the price-sustainability trade-off, only 53% of their Mexican counterparts feel the same way. 

Nearly two out of three consumers in the UAE say they prioritize a product’s cost over its environmental friendliness (64%) - almost equal in proportion to those who believe that eco-products almost always come with a higher price tag (65%).

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. The data is based on surveys of adults aged 18+ years in 18 markets with sample sizes varying between 512 and 2,007 for each market. All surveys were conducted online in March 2023. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.