At the moment, purpose-driven customers, or customers who choose products and brands based on how well they align with their values, represent 44% of the market.1 This means that customers who value sustainability will seek it out in their shopping.  

How do we move along with this shift in sustainability and align with these values as mortgage advisers? Green consumerism is on the rise and we want to keep up.

What is a green consumer?

As a whole, green consumerism advocates for the sustainable use of products and asks for services that don’t harm the environment. A green consumer is particularly interested in maintaining a healthy and safe lifestyle without compromising the health and safety of the environment. 

We’ve come a long way already, but recent financial, social and economic shifts have changed the way people think about sustainability. One of the largest shifts came from the pandemic and its rippling repercussions.

How the pandemic changed consumer focuses

The pandemic caused a significant shift in consumer mentality, and many had to change their ways and form new routines in order to adapt to this new way of life. To highlight this, we took a look at PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) consumer reports. PwC introduced their first consumer report in October 2020, right in the thick of global turmoil.

They later released the March 2021 edition and the change in consumer behaviour was stark, even after six months. Many consumers claimed to be more data-conscious, price-oriented, health-conscious and more aware of the need for sustainable living.2

green sustainability and businesses

What consumers expect from businesses

Following the pandemic, many consumers saw a shift in their mentality, with a lot of people demonstrating more interest in sustainability and eco-friendly products and practices. While PwC’s report states that sustainable experiences aren’t right at the top of the list of what consumers want, they sit at a solid 19%. 

Sitting right at the top is reliability, which goes hand in hand with delivering on one’s promises. 

Jessica Sansom, Sustainability Director at Huel, says that in cases like sustainability and green promises, “businesses need to adopt a model of complete transparency and honesty. So many companies are still trying to use green initiatives as a marketing tool rather than just seeing it as a better way of doing business.”

Sansom goes on to say that if we “move beyond marketing messages to simply being honest and transparent about current performance and targets and where you are on that journey, you'll gain consumer trust.”

Supporting the green consumer

Some of the most consistent barriers to sustainable shopping include a lack of options, awareness and time. Let’s put this into perspective, referencing back to the PwC report: 

  • 32% of consumers say they lack sustainable options

  • 20% say they don’t have time to look

  • 15% say they are not aware of sustainable products and practices. 

In the context of the housing market, these are problems easily remedied with good advice, information packs and support. As advisers, it is our duty to provide consistent, reliable and easy to understand information to our clients. 

As of 2020, 43% of consumers had never heard of a green mortgage3. At the time of publishing, nearly 20% of consumers were also willing to pay an extra £100 a month for a green mortgage, though it’s difficult to say what that figure looks like now with the current financial crisis. 

However, Sansom states that making the move to sustainability doesn’t have to be considerably more expensive than sticking to the status quo. She notes that “the payback periods for sustainability-related investments are getting shorter and shorter,” and that ultimately, “the cost of doing nothing will be far more expensive.”

A new build buyer may not know they have access to green mortgage products, so they won’t be looking at them as options. With this in mind, we could introduce the option. Similarly, many don’t know how they can adapt their current living situation and improve their EPC rating, and this could be what it takes to open up new mortgage deals for them.

Why does this matter? 

The UK’s net zero goal is written in law. As a country, we must hit net zero by 2050. This leaves no room for compromise, and while we know there are obstacles, with the right support it’s an achievable target. 

This support must come from the government passing and maintaining regulations, from lenders and suppliers ensuring their products and services support sustainable practice, and from us, who educate and inform our consumers of their options. 

At the end of the day, green must start at home. The small steps we take now, both in our personal lives and within our businesses, have the potential to make a difference. 

If you’re interested in getting a green mortgage or looking to remortgage to fund some home improvements, get in touch with one of our expert advisers, who can help you make a decision that is going to suit your individual needs and circumstances.

why green consumerism is important

Important information

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

There may be a fee for mortgage advice. The actual amount you pay will depend on your circumstances. The fee is up to 1% but a typical fee is 0.3% of the amount borrowed.

You may have to pay an early repayment charge to your existing lender if you remortgage.