When people talk about sustainability, it might mean different things to different people. Some may choose to use reusable bags at the grocery store or limit their water consumption while others support fair trade brands. Most associate sustainability more with environmental impact than social causes. According to a NielsenIQ survey, 61% of U.S. consumers associate sustainability with benefiting the planet, 57% with preserving natural resources, and 54% with reducing pollution. Only 33% associate it with better conditions for workers and 26% with societal contributions.

Source : NIQ 2023 Sustainability Report; USA

While definitions of sustainability may vary, it is becoming more important to consumers. 62% stated that sustainability is more important to them than it was two years ago. It’s prevalence in the news and visible real-world effects are propelling this awareness into purchasing action.

"Initially focused on eliminating perceived ’harmful’ ingredients, consumers now seek products that not only meet clean Beauty standards but also minimize environmental impact," explained NielsenIQ.

According to the market research firm, sustainable segments across beauty, are experiencing substantial dollar growth, with compostable products growing by 30.9%, cruelty free products up 18.1%, and plastic free products up 12.2%.

Thus, U.S. consumers are transitioning from an ingredient-focused clean beauty 1.0 — with claims like ’paraben-free’ or ’sulfate-free’ — towards a clean beauty 2.0 that also encompasses environmental concerns, before perhaps also amalgamating the societal issues.

Consequently, consumers are paying more attention to packaging waste, with a significant +64% increase in searches for refillable options.

"Consumers are letting us know that sustainability is important to them, and it is a trend we can expect to continue to see in the beauty category. Brands must communicate clear messages about their sustainability efforts to cater to consumers seeking products that align with their sustainability goals," concludes NielsenIQ.