Reusable dishes, organic nut butter, bulk, sustainably caught fish, compostable bags. Sustainable products have entered our lives, but their claims sometimes arouse mistrust. Details, in five key questions.

Inflation influences purchases in the department of durable products of all kinds. In September 2021, when the pandemic was well established, almost one in two Canadians said they had “purchased at least one durable good or service”. Eighteen months later, in March 2023, the proportion had slipped to 37%, according to a Deloitte report published on June 22.

Across all age groups and across all income levels, cost is cited as the biggest barrier to buying fair trade coffee and other grass-fed beef.

Note: Brand, price, and size weigh more heavily in the balance when deciding on a purchase than durability.

Fortunately, people now know that paying more for purchase often leads to savings, says Pénélope Auvray, assistant manager of the DDD boutique in Rosemont, which is therefore dedicated to sustainable design. She gives the example of disposable makeup remover pads that will cost much more at the end of the year than their reusable counterpart.

If money sometimes slows the enthusiasm of consumers, their values ​​are always in line with those of sustainable products. More than six in ten customers (62%) are willing to pay more for an eco-responsible product, and this, for a markup of 20% or more than the asking price for an equivalent.

That being said, six in ten Canadians believe they shouldn’t have to rack their brains to decide if one product is greener than another and a strong 94% believe “it’s the responsibility of ‘a brand of creating products that do no harm to the Earth’.

“Quebec consumers want to have more sustainable products. They consider themselves ready to pay more, but on condition that they clearly understand the added value. Otherwise, they won’t come and pay that extra premium,” says Cindy Loridon, Manager, Sustainability and Climate Change, Greenhouse – a Deloitte program.

Among the wide variety of green claims, consumers sometimes get dizzy. And are suspicious. The recent cases of greenwashing – these displayed eco-responsible values ​​which are rather marketing claims – have fueled skepticism.

Result: 57% of Canadian consumers do not believe most brand claims.

“The business question is, how can companies build trust in their brands to help consumers confidently choose sustainable goods and services?” asks the Deloitte report.

“It’s not an easy task,” concedes Cindy Loridon, who points out that transparency and authenticity on the part of companies are very important. That it must be part of the very mission of an organization and that those who have a global approach and a concerted message are more likely to win the hearts of their customers. In a sustainable way.

Is the game worth the candle for manufacturers and other suppliers? Not always, they say.

Although the majority of companies have considered the possibility of developing eco-responsible products (and 81% have already done so), several industry representatives admit that research and development are more expensive to lead to the creation of these products. value-added services and products.

Businesses should note this: According to the Deloitte report, consumers are going to be more loyal to a brand once they know it’s engaged. And they will pay more for its products.

The subject is still new, says Cindy Loridon. “It’s a subject that we tame. Companies see how it can fit into their business model, so indeed, we are at a crossroads. We feel the good will of everyone to move in the right direction. »

Rue Beaubien Est, at Frëtt Design, Noor Dahmani confirms that customers who know, come back. “In the case of our brand, it’s made locally in Gaspésie, they are won over,” she says. So they come back often. Noor Dahmani observes the same phenomenon for online sales of other sustainable products where the same names often come up. Customers are true to their values, she says.

The survey was conducted both on the consumer side and with business leaders, in order to obtain two different views. That’s effectively what we got: two different visions.

The survey was conducted in April 2023. Just over 1,000 Canadian consumers participated and 311 industry representatives.

Despite the skepticism raised on the consumer side, 71% of business leaders who participated in the research believe that the public has a high level of trust in their sustainability claims.

Cindy Loridon notes here a “deep disconnect” between those who make the products and those who buy them. According to her, there should be more homogeneity in the message. “Everyone is going to promote different things at different levels and consumers are confused,” she said. They are even a little frustrated with his allegations. »