One in two Europeans say sustainability motivates them to limit their spending

As we mark the World Environmental Day 5th of June, our latest European Consumer Payment Report 2020 finds growing trend towards more sustainable consumption, especially among younger and female consumers.

Since 1974, World Environment Day has been celebrated every year on 5 June, engaging governments, businesses and citizens in an effort to address pressing environmental issues

On the back of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the European Consumer Payment Report 2020 from Intrum finds that a growing awareness of sustainability is causing many Europeans to spend less.

Sustainable spending on the rise

According to findings from the report, close to one in two respondents (47%) say their interest in sustainability has motivated them to limit their spending. It’s a growing trend: in 2019, the figure was 42%.

My interest in sustainability has motivated me to limit my spending, (agree) European average, 2019 vs 2020.

Both younger and female consumers are leading the way:

  1. 50% of women, Generation Z (18-21 years) and Millennials (22-37 years) say they are cutting their spending to be more sustainable;

  2. But all other age groups are also well engaged with this issue, ranging from 44% (65 and over) to 48% (38 to 44 years);
  3. And, 44% of men are motivated to spend sustainably.

My interest in sustainability has motivated me to limit my spending, (agree) split on age groups, 2019 vs 2020.

The message resonates most in Romania and Portugal: 65% of consumers in both countries say it makes them try to spend less. However, it’s less of a factor in the UK (36%), Denmark (37%) and Germany (38%).

My interest in sustainability has motivated me to limit my spending, (agree) split country by country, 2020.

Why can we see a shift towards a more sustainable spending?

There is a growing debate over how much we consume, especially regarding its negative effects on the environment and the climate.

Spurred on by environmental activists such as Greta Thunberg, more and more consumers are seeing the bigger picture. They’re considering how they can take personal responsibility for helping fight climate change and cut down on waste.

One initiative this year to promote circular economy by reusing what we already have is #CircularMonday, which dedicates Monday November 23rd to encouraging people to reuse, repair and rent clothing and other goods. The organisers say it’s an easy way for individuals to put the circular economy into action.

In 2020, we see a clear increase of consumers who limit their spending due to interest in sustainability. The future will tell whether this is a temporary effect of the pandemic, or if we are in the middle of a permanent transformation of consumption patterns.
Anette Willumsen, Managing Director CMS Sales & Service Development and Markets

Driven by changing consumer behaviour, retailers and other industries have been gradually addressing the issue. A report by Intracen in 2019 found that 92% of retailers expected sales in sustainable products to increase in the next five years.

Social media is often blamed for pressuring people to consume more, but Intrum’s survey finds that it can also have a positive influence:

  1. 35% of European consumers say it has increased their awareness of buying goods that are ethical/sustainable

  2. Almost half of those in Finland (49%) and Ireland (47%) say the same

  3. Even in countries where social media is playing less of a role, at least a quarter of consumers say it affects what they purchase (France, Belgium, Latvia, the Netherlands and Germany).

Social media has increased my awareness of buying goods that are ethical/sustainable (agree) split country by country.

Intrum has long been an advocate for sustainable spending

Limiting spending will have a positive impact on the environment as well as for the wallets of European consumers. We believe that a healthy balance between spending and borrowing will be crucial for consumers to be control of their own financial situation.

About the report:
The European Consumer Payment Report is based on an external survey of 24,198 consumers in 24 European countries. The field work took place between 28th of August and 5th of October 2020.

Download the European Consumer Payment Report: