Based on our collective years of industry and market research, our opinion and findings remain steady: Consumers are changing their buying behavior and are turning their wallets towards companies who give back and implement sustainable practices. In short, the modern consumer now expects sustainability and social responsibility from the brands they love. To illustrate, a recent study completed by the Pew Research Center in April of 2016 shows that the majority of consumers are concerned with emissions with 54% of them being “very concerned.” This mindset, paired with a focus from leading companies such as Disney, Google, UPS, Walmart, and others has created a growing consumer demand for sustainable products and fuel standards. According to a study by the Shelton Group, 48% of Americans claim that corporate environmental reputation impacts their purchase decision at the shelf. As such, and as expected, this trend is growing within the fuel industry as we mature and develop our industry’s image of fresh, fast, and convenient.
As always, consumer behavior and regulatory trends are beginning to align. Today, carbon regulation is being implemented worldwide. Countries, states, companies, and more are either implementing or contemplating carbon taxes, clean energy regulations, or cap and trade mechanisms. In the United States there are carbon regulation requirements on fuel in California, Washington, Oregon, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and in parts of Colorado showing us that regardless of which party holds office, the landscape of Federal, State, and Local carbon emissions regulations is rapidly changing. We are beginning to see sustainability as a topic of discussion for bills, town halls, and party policy. This is why it is our opinion that implementing a sustainability program into your business is a reasonable and pragmatic decision with low risk.
With the cost of such programs at an all-time low there’s no better time than now to lock in your competitive advantage. You don’t want to play catch up when carbon regulations are a national requirement. Not only does the implementation of sustainable practices make good business sense, consumers are willing to pay more for those sustainable products and services. In a Neilson study, 50% of consumers said they are willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society. Further, a study completed by the Hartman Group found that 84% of American consumers report that they consider sustainability when making purchase decisions.
Through our research, our fleet and retail fuel customers, and broad interactions in the fuel industry across the world, it’s explicitly evident that companies are implementing triple bottom lines. They recognize that sustainability is no longer a costly expense, but rather, a business decision that is important to their structure and that drives value. We’re seeing fuel retailers invest in sustainable food options, reduced emissions programs related to their fuel, recycling programs, and more.
Read more from the April Issue of our Fuel for Thought newsletter.