Responsible purchasing gaining importance, Otto trend study finds

Rising number of sustainable purchases - trend towards organic, regional or fair-trade goods
03 February 2021
Stand at a market

Ethical consumption is more than simply a buzzword and buyers of environment-friendly and socially responsible products can help alleviate global problems, according to a recent trend study by the Hamburg-based Otto Group. Around 1,149 people in Germany aged between 14 and 74 years were surveyed in October 2020. Ethical criteria are more important to German consumers and especially amid the coronavirus-induced crisis. Hamburg News highlights five key findings.

1. Ethical consumption going mainstream

Ethical criteria play a key role in 70 per cent of respondents' purchasing choices. The pandemic also plays a role therein and has prompted a rethink among many Germans. Purchases are often better thought through and checked for necessity. One in five of those surveyed said they have become even more aware of buying according to ethical criteria since the coronavirus crisis. Consumers increasingly expect companies to take a stance.

2. Throwaway society - a thing of the past?

Rapid consumption and wasting natural resources should be a thing of the past, according to most Germans. Some 82 per cent of respondents are prepared to turn away from a throwaway society towards a circular economy and in favor of a longer product service life and more efficient materials, the study found. Three out of five respondents could imagine paying the extra costs of climate-neutral products and thus for their own emissions.


3. Sharing and second-hand goods more popular

People who like to share or are fans of second-hand goods are among the trendsetters. In 2013, only about  half of those surveyed were prepared to share, swop, borrow or buy second-hand good more frequently compared to 64 per cent in 2020. Three quarters of Germans like buying or selling used items e.g., worn fashion or old furniture. A good half of those surveyed plan to borrow rather than buy more often in future.

4. Focus on climate change 

Germans seem to have realized the importance of ethical consumption. Seven out of ten respondents see serious difficulties ahead for people and the environment, if society continues to consume without restraint. More than 80 per cent can imagine paying the real costs of pollution and climate change when shopping.


Hamburg's bike sharing company, Stadtrad, reflects trend!
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StadtRad & Co. – Sharing is caring

5. Consumers urge more political accountability 

When it comes to responsibility for ethical consumption, respondents said the political sphere should be the catalyst of sustainable purchasing decisions. In 2013, only one in four respondents said politicians should take responsibility compared to 41 per cent in 2020 while 23 per cent pointed to economic responsibility and 22 per cent to that of individuals. A large proportion of respondents said industrialized countries should take more responsibility in the fight against climate change and lend poorer countries more support.