Study finds that consumers are willing to sacrifice for products delivered in sustainable ways

Surprisingly, the majority of consumers are unaware these delivery options exist. In this demand-driven world, fleet owners who have resisted incorporating natural gas-powered vehicles into their fleets might want to think again about what these consumer attitudes will mean to their future.

In an earlier blog on the topic of the new demand-driven supply chain, I challenged fleet owners to be open to incorporating sustainable vehicles into their fleets. Some fleet owners might be motivated to take this step of incorporating natural gas (NG)-powered vehicles because of the fuel savings and price stability that these types of vehicles provide. But they might not be aware of another excellent benefit these vehicles can deliver: the goodwill of the buying public.

A survey by the business and technology consulting firm West Monroe Partners has found that consumers in North America are not only willing to pay more for sustainability delivered products but to wait a little longer for them, too.

Interestingly, the majority of the consumers in the study were actually unaware that alternative delivery modes were even available. Once they were informed that these options existed, they said they were willing to make concessions on their delivery choices. Next-day delivery is nice, they say, but they are willing to sacrifice a little convenience for a more sustainable delivery.

In a news release issued by West Monroe, Yves Leclerc, leader of the company’s supply chain practice, put it bluntly: “The modern consumer is paying more than lip service to environmentally conscious decisions these days and plenty are willing to put their money – and patience – where their mouths are.”

More specifically, over half of consumers surveyed say they are willing to pay at least 5% higher prices for products ordered online if they’re delivered sustainably. Some 76% say they would wait at least one extra day for “climate-friendly” transport.

“Given the dominance of e-commerce and trends such as same- and next-day delivery, order fulfillment’s impact on the environment is a significant one,” Leclerc said. “Consumers are willing to sacrifice for products delivered in ways that don’t yield damaging greenhouse gas emissions; they just need to be aware of these alternative delivery models first.”

Some of the other findings in the study include:

  • 12% of U.S. consumers would pay up to 10% more for sustainable delivery.
  • Annual income was not an influential factor in these attitudes. In fact, respondents who earned over $100,000/year were slightly less likely to accept higher prices for this type of transport.
  • Age had only a minor impact on these attitudes, with 18-25 year olds slightly less likely to pay more for climate-friendly transport vs. 26-35 year olds.

Since the supply chain has moved to a much more demand-driven one, fleet owners should make sure they stay apprised of changing consumer attitudes. While NG-powered vehicles may presents a host of challenges to fuel and maintain, they may become the norm in the long run based on consumer demand.

As these consumers become more educated about how the products they purchase are manufactured, handled and distributed – and what the impact these processes have on the environment – the time may come when NG-powered vehicles are no longer an option but a requirement. Perhaps now is the time to slowly introduce alternatively fueled vehicles into the fleet rather than dealing with a shipper’s mandate later on.

We’re interested in your thoughts.

This article first appeared in the AmeriQuest blog.

Joe Gallick

About Joe Gallick

Joe Gallick is Senior Vice President of Sales for NationaLease. An experienced supply chain executive and spokesperson in the logistics provider industry, he held senior management positions with Penske Logistics before joining NationaLease. He serves as a liaison with the Penn State University Center for Supply Chain Research.

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