July 25, 2019 Published by

In today’s hyper-green culture, it’s easy to presume that everyone is striving to make cleaner, greener, and more sustainable choices when it comes to their beauty and personal care product purchases. And while for many consumers, sustainability and ‘being green’ are high priorities, for others—electing to buy or use green and sustainable products is simply not top of mind because it’s not the primary benefit she seeks from her beauty and personal care products.

What’s more, in spite of a decade’s worth of consumer education and messaging around making more sustainable choices, many consumers are still bewildered by what sustainability means, and how they can adopt more eco-friendly habits into their own beauty routines.

To understand more, The Benchmarking Company (TBC) surveyed more than 7,300 US female beauty consumers about sustainability. In Part One of our two-part series, we take a look at attitudes, habits, drivers, and influencers for everything green.

The (relative Un-)importance of Sustainability in her Beauty Purchase Decision

The very first question as part of this study asked respondents to select the top 3 attributes most important to them when considering the purchase of a beauty or personal care product. Products that contain sustainable ingredients or sustainable packaging are not at the top of her list. Her top three drivers are overwhelmingly dominated by how well the products work and what they cost: efficacy (78%), price (71%), and positive consumer reviews/claims (47%), and then more distantly by natural ingredients (30%) and convenience (26%).

Figure 1. Sustainability Drivers by Age

Sustainability Drivers By Age All Gen Z (18 – 24) Millennials (25 – 38) Gen X (39 – 53) Boomers (54+)
Efficacy—it works! 78% 76% 79% 80% 77%
Price 71% 75% 73% 69% 69%
Positive product reviews/consumer claims 47% 48% 49% 46% 46%
Natural ingredients 30% 27% 29% 30% 33%
Convenient/easy to buy 26% 19% 25% 27% 29%
Cruelty free 23% 25% 22% 23% 24%
Organic ingredients 7% 8% 6% 7% 7%
Sustainable ingredients 6% 7% 6% 6% 6%
Sustainable packaging 3% 4% 3% 3% 2%
Vegan 2% 5% 3% 2% .5%


Sustainable ingredients and sustainable packaging were only important product attributes to 6% and 3% of consumers, respectively.  Similarly, organic ingredients were important to 7% of consumers.

However, these stats don’t reflect how consumers feel about protecting the environment. When it comes to their level of commitment to being ‘greener’ or protecting the environment, 41% rate their level of commitment at a ‘four’ (on a scale of 1 – 5, with five being the highest); 31% rate themselves a ‘three’, and 24% saying they are a ‘five’ or fully committed.

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