Contemplating Shopping

Sustainability-Marketed Products Grow Despite Inflation

March 22, 2023
Research from NYU and Circana (IRI and NPD) shows they outperformed conventionally marketed products.

For at least some shoppers, values outweigh value, as products with a sustainability claim continue to outperform conventionally marketed products, even in the face of inflation.

The New York University Stern Center for Sustainable Business and Circana, formerly IRI and NPD, released the 2022 update of the “CSB Sustainable Market Share Index.” Now in its fourth year, this report examines consumer purchases of sustainability-marketed consumer packaged goods (CPG). Highlights from the latest research include:

  • In the face of high inflation and pressure on U.S. consumers’ wallets, sustainability-marketed products outperformed conventionally marketed products across 36 categories and grew +0.3 points to 17.3% of purchases.
  • Sustainability marketed products’ five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) sits at 9.48%, outpacing its conventional counterpart at 4.98% for the same period.
  • Sustainability-marketed products still enjoy a price premium of 27.6% compared to their conventional counterparts, but the price gap narrowed this past year as many conventional products executed above-inflation price increases and several lower-priced conventional products added sustainable features.

“This year’s results definitively show that sustainable products survived inflation,” asserts Randi Kronthal-Sacco, senior scholar at the NYU sustainable business center. “In a clear nod to changing consumer preferences, we are encouraged to see that several large legacy brands have also begun to adopt sustainable benefits in their product lineup.”

“It’s important for brands to leverage their sustainability attributes in their marketing messaging, as studies show that leveraging such messaging can generate incremental sales,” says Doug Yolen, vice president, Center of Store, Media Center of Excellence at Circana.

Circana is the result of the August 2022 merger of market data firms Information Resources Inc. and The NPD Group.

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.