Are global consumers likely to move away from sustainable apparel due to tighter household budgets?
August 29th, 2023, Bhavika Bansal

Are global consumers likely to move away from sustainable apparel due to tighter household budgets?

A recent YouGov poll revealed that more than two-thirds of global consumers (69%) believe that sustainable products almost always come with a higher price tag, with a majority agreeing that these higher prices can deter them from embracing sustainable options. This piece explores whether tightening household budgets and inflation have a similar effect on a consumer’s decision to buy environment-friendly apparel and shoes.

A survey of 18 key international markets shows a significant share of consumers globally are likely to cut back on buying eco-products when faced with tighter household budgets.

Consumer electronics like solar water heaters lead the pack with nearly half of all global consumers saying they are likely to cut back their spending on such products if their budgets are squeezed (48%), followed closely by those who say the same about sustainable apparel and shoes (46%). Sports gear (41%) and healthcare products (40%) bring up the rear of the list, and, interestingly, are also the categories where consumers are most likely to never buy environmentally friendly products in the first place (16% and 10% respectively).

Significantly outpacing the global average, three out of five consumers in India and Indonesia say they would cut back on buying sustainable apparel and shoes if their household budgets were squeezed (61% for both). On the other hand, less than half of consumers in Hong Kong (49%) and Australia (47%) say the same.

While a majority of consumers in Mexico (59%) share similar views, this proportion falls significantly when it comes to consumers in the US (30% - the lowest of all regions). Notably, more than a fifth of Americans also say that they have never purchased sustainable apparel and shoes at all (22%).

Our polled European markets share similarly disparate opinions. While more than half of consumers in Italy (53%) and Spain (51%) say they would reduce their spending on sustainable apparel in the case of tighter household budgets, less than two out of five consumers in Sweden (38%), Great Britain (36%), Denmark (35%) and Germany (34%) say the same.

Much like their Mexican counterparts, 55% of consumers in the UAE say are likely to cut back on buying eco-friendly apparel and shoes if their household budgets tighten due to inflation.

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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 511 and 1,999 for each market. All surveys were conducted online in May 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.