Deloitte consumer survey: Sustainable consumption in Germany is falling

Fewer and fewer consumers are buying sustainable products. The reasons for this are rising prices and the high quality demands on sustainable alternatives

Deloitte consumer survey

Author: House of Eden

  • A current Deloitte consumer survey shows that despite growing awareness of climate change, fewer and fewer consumers are buying sustainable products
  • Over half of those surveyed forego sustainable products due to high prices. Quality expectations also increase with sustainable alternatives
  • Need for action at all levels: transparent communication and education for companies, economical use of resources and individual measures for consumers

Climate change and environmentally conscious actions are on everyone's lips these days. The majority of Germans has the opinion, that a shift towards sustainable behavior is urgently needed in order to combat climate change. But does that mean that consumers are putting their ideas into practice with their purchasing behavior? Unfortunately no. According to a new Deloitte consumer survey, only 45% of Germans said this September that they had last bought a sustainable product. For comparison: In September 2021 it was still 59%. The data is based on feedback from 1000 people surveyed in Germany in September 2023 as part of the Deloitte ConsumerSignal.

Sustainable consumption: focus on the interaction between price and quality

The current survey results highlight subject areas that could result in such a decline in sustainable consumption. These include the general price increases last year as well as the generally high price level of sustainable products. 54% of those surveyed said they had not purchased any sustainable products in the last four weeks due to the high price.

Reasons for less sustainable consumption

Source & Copyright: Deloitte Consumer Insights 2023 Sustainability

But quality is also a reason for declining sustainable consumption: Egbert Wegen, Lead Partner Consumer Products & Retail, explains: “If sustainability comes with a high price in times of tight household budgets, expectations of quality are particularly high.”

However, this quality is doubted by 18% of those surveyed. They stated that they were not convinced about the quality of sustainable products. The reasons for this are different: While the durability, freshness and taste of sustainable alternatives are criticized in the food sector, consumers are dissatisfied with the material properties, quality, durability and wearing comfort of sustainable clothing.

Household income as irrelevant for sustainable consumption

The theory that household income is also an important factor for purchasing sustainable products was not confirmed in the Deloitte survey: five out of ten people with medium or high incomes have recently purchased sustainable products. Consumers with low incomes four out of ten, which is not a particularly big difference. One reason for this could be the increasing range of organic products in discount stores, as this makes it possible to choose sustainable products everywhere.

Sustainable behavior depends on the age group

Of course, sustainable action also goes beyond food consumption: economical use of energy and water, less meat consumption or fewer parcel shipments also have a low ecological footprint. The behavior differs primarily in age groups: people aged 55 and over, for example, rely on environmentally friendly measures such as saving electricity and water, while the younger generation from 18 to 34 rely on a low-meat diet and green electricity.

Sustainability at all levels

There is therefore an urgent need for action in the area of ​​sustainability. Both for companies and for consumers. “Important levers for retailers and consumer goods manufacturers are transparent communication and educational work in order to strengthen trust in sustainable products and convince individuals of the price-performance ratio,” continues Egbertwege, Lead Partner Consumer Products & Retail. For those who do not shop sustainably for financial reasons, money-saving measures may be suitable, such as eating less meat, saving electricity and water, buying second-hand clothing or recycling. Only if both, companies and individuals, work together on their actions can we ensure a sustainable future.

It is up to us to act responsibly, rethink our values ​​and fight climate change to the best of our knowledge and belief. Of course, not every person has the necessary resources to live completely sustainably. But every single organic product purchased, every resource recycled and every energy saved is a step in the right direction.


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