Online commerce in 2020 witnessed rapid and historic growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As shoppers quickly transitioned to digital to get goods without encountering crowds — and continue to do so still — there are environmental considerations on the impact of this societal shift. E-commerce shopping has accelerated due to the pandemic, but consumers are mixed on if that is worse for the environment. Seventy-nine percent of consumer respondents stated making more purchases this year compared to last year specifically due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CouponFollow’s new report, “Consumer Sustainability Report 2021”, examines consumers' perception of their impact on climate change and their interest in sustainability when compared to convenience and budgetary restrictions. Almost all consumers would shop more sustainably if there was some monetary incentive or discount. Ninety-two percent of consumers felt a discount or tax credit would be at least somewhat effective in swaying them to shop sustainable brands. Over half (55%) of consumers felt a discount or tax credit would be very or extremely effective to push them toward sustainable brands.

However, sustainability doesn't drive brand loyalty in the majority of U.S. consumers. Consumer perceptions of major retailers when it comes to sustainability vary, but marketing and advertising may play an influential role. Eighty-five percent of respondents stated that the quality of products make them loyal to a brand or retailer, while 80% stated the price of their products is what drives loyalty. Only 1 in 5 (25%) respondents said that sustainable/ethical business practices were what drove their loyalty.

When asked directly if respondents felt data privacy or climate change was more important to them, the majority favored data privacy. While 73% of U.S. consumers felt climate change would impact them in their lifetime, 60% of U.S. consumers felt their data privacy was a more important issue than climate change; Only 35% felt climate change was more important over data privacy.

Boomers were less likely to seek out an eco-friendly package, with 1 in 3 (35%) stating they have made zero intentional eco-friendly purchases in the last year. Alternatively, millennials were the most likely to seek out more eco-friendly packages, with half (50%) stating they have made three or more intentional eco-friendly purchases in the last year.

Key Takeaways:

  • There is a generational gap in perspective on climate change. Overall data suggests that younger generations are more concerned with climate change than older generations. Additionally, older generations may prioritize other concerns such as data privacy, while young millennials (aged 24-29) were the most likely to correlate climate change to human-related activities.
  • Consumers seem unsure whether purchasing goods online over in-store is more or less beneficial for the environment.  Research suggests that consumers are not clear on what the environmental impact from increased e-commerce purchasing are compared to in-store purchasing. Fifty-five percent of consumers stated they felt buying online and having goods shipped directly to them has the same impact on the environment as buying in-store, while the remaining were split at 22% each on if it was better or worse for the environment.

Visit to get the report.