Get to Know… The Conscious Consumer

SMAKK is a digital agency that brands, builds and grows ecommerce businesses. Consumer insights guide our process and allow our team to develop the best strategies to drive sales. In our “Get to Know…” series, our Strategist and UX Designer, Maria Bonello, introduces key consumer segments for ecommerce brands to consider.

In the past few years, we’ve seen brands, both big and small, become more transparent about their sourcing, manufacturing, environmental impact, and social initiatives. This shift was a direct response to consumers who demand more from brands. Let’s get into the conscious consumer:

Who Conscious Consumers Are
The conscious consumer is someone who cares about transparency and the impact that their purchases have on society (environment, social justice, equality, and more). According to Neilson, 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for products they trust, have perceived health/wellness benefits, and/or have what they consider fresh, natural, organic ingredients. While this consumer spans across multiple generations, income levels, and geographical locations — Millenials, and Gen-Z are the largest growing segment.

From buying products associated with a cause to using their online networks to amplify social and environmental messages, Millennials are universally more engaged in corporate social responsibility efforts. Millennials are more fervent in their support and more willing to purchase products with a social or environmental benefit (87% vs. 83% U.S. average).

Another segment to consider are parents who choose sustainable products because they believe they are better for the wellness of their family. Pregnancy is a key moment where mothers become more label conscious, and that behavior continues as families grow. In a recent study that looked at purchasing behavior of parents, it was noted that 85% of parents said buying organic baby foods was ‘extremely’ or ‘very important’ as did 84% of parents about kids foods. This user group is also emotionally charged to buy organic — 44% felt that they were a better parent for buying organic.

Products They Love
Though they do care about their impact, consumers simply aren’t willing to sacrifice style, quality, or product benefits in favor of something that’s sustainable.

When we conducted a survey of Satva Living customers to learn about their purchasing behaviors, we learned that 47.37% of their customers cared about fit & style above price, sustainability, and their social mission.

Mintel confirms, “When corporate social responsibility went mainstream in the early 2000s, incorporating social initiatives and linking to ethics was an effective way to attract attention and promote brand loyalty. Now, with more than half of consumers willing to stop supporting unethical companies, it’s become the norm and is often expected by consumers. These efforts are no longer differentiators and can even draw skepticism among consumers.” said Lauren Bonetto, Lifestyles and Leisure Analyst at Mintel.

According to Nielsen’s 2015 consumer study:

  • 59% care about a product’s health and wellness benefits
  • 57% want products made with fresh, natural, and/or organic ingredients
  • 45% are influenced by a commitment to the environment
  • Commitment to either social value or the consumer’s community are also important (each influencing 43% and 41% of respondents, respectively)

How They Shop
Markers once reserved for just food have migrated first to CPG and personal care, and now ultimately to everything from apparel to home goods. While consumers still look for seals for organic, non-GMO, and cruelty-free — we’re seeing the concepts of “clean” and “transparent” take the place of unregulated words like “green” and “natural” that no longer hold much meaning to consumers.

Food, cosmetics, and skincare brands especially have embraced the “clean” ingredients list. As S.W. Basics Founder Adina Grigore says, “People want to know about their brands. That’s what we’re responding to. It’s why what we’re doing is working and we take that very seriously. Ultimate transparency.”

And transparency is exactly how fashion and apparel brands have translated this. Brands like Everlane, have led the way by opening up about their sourcing and manufacturing. Helping consumers equate their open supply chain to value and quality.

It’s important to note is that digital has truly enabled telling complex sourcing stories. Direct-to-consumer and social media allow brands to have deeper, more open conversations with consumers and share more compelling stories.

How We Can Reach + Keep Conscious Consumers
What it means to be a “conscious” brand is shifting. Brands like Annies, Tom’s Shoes, and Whole Foods dominated the conscious consumer category just 5 years ago just by differentiating with their values. Now the category is being redefined by cool brands like Reformation, SW Basics, the Honest Company, Everlane, and Silk who commit to making sustainability one tenant of their brand while also delivering on style, taste, quality, and a unique point of view.

What Conscious Consumers Care About

  • Transparency in ingredients
  • Transparency in the supply chain
  • Organic, Natural, Fresh Ingredients
  • Health and Wellness
  • An Authentic Mission
  • Genuine care about their impact
  • Product Value, Effectivity, and Style

Take Away
The Conscious Consumer isn’t going anywhere — in fact, they’re only continuing to grow and gain more spending power. Although they care about being conscious shoppers, they aren’t willing to sacrifice style. Instead, they’re raising the bar for all brands, expecting quality, stylish products AND a sustainable component — it’s simply not enough to have just one or the other anymore.

Conscious consumers expect more than just an organic seal — from food and personal care to fashion and fitness brands consumers want to know how, where, and with what their products are made.

The brands doing this best are using digital to create a dialogue with their consumers, where they can highlight their initiatives alongside their products.

Is your ecommerce experience doing all it can to communicate your values to your consumers? Are you connecting with the right consumer? Talk to SMAKK, we love this stuff.