Press Releases

Research from NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business and IRI Highlights the Permanence of Sustainability-Marketed Products

CHICAGO and NEW YORK CITY– September 28, 2021 – The NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business and IRI® partnered to expand on research from the 2021 Sustainable Market Share Index™, an annual report examining consumer purchases of sustainability-marketed consumer packaged goods (CPG). Highlights from the latest research include:

Growing through the COVID-19 pandemic

  • In the face of unprecedented CPG growth in 2020 (+11% versus 2019), sustainability-marketed products outperformed conventionally marketed products across 36 categories and grew +0.7 points to 16.8% of purchases.

E-commerce trends

  • Products marketed as “sustainable” have outperformed conventionally marketed products in e-commerce.
  • Moreover, in 75% of the categories examined, sustainability-marketed products performed better online than in-store.
  • In 2020, the e-commerce CPG share for sustainability-marketed products grew 65% versus 2019, 7 points higher than conventionally marketed products.

Demographic and geographic findings

  • Millennial, upper-income, college-educated and urban cohorts are more likely to buy sustainability-marketed products.
  • Baby boomer, Gen X, upper- and middle-income, college-educated and urban cohorts account for the bulk of the sustainable dollars spent.

"Despite significant price premiums, sustainability-marketed products grew far faster than conventionally branded players and had lower price sensitivity in two-thirds of categories examined," noted Randi Kronthal-Sacco, senior scholar, Marketing and Corporate Outreach, NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business. "Our research with IRI tells us that even during unpredictable and financially unstable times, sustainability is still an important factor in purchase decisions."

"Generational differences can be seen in sustainability definitions, attitudes and purchase behaviors. Brands and retailers must be able to optimize packaging, labeling, websites and messaging to reach sustainably focused audiences most effectively," said Larry Levin, executive vice president, Consumer and Shopper Marketing, IRI.

Resuming the Sustainability Agenda Webinar

To learn more about the latest sustainability research from IRI and NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business, join the free webinar, Resuming the Sustainability Agenda, on Sept. 30 at 12 p.m. CT. Register here.

About New York University Stern School of Business

New York University Stern School of Business, located in the heart of Greenwich Village and deeply connected with the city for which it is named, is one of the nation’s premier management education schools and research centers. NYU Stern offers a broad portfolio of transformational programs at the graduate, undergraduate and executive levels, all of them enriched by the dynamism and deep resources of one of the world’s business capitals. NYU Stern is a welcoming community that inspires its members to embrace and lead change in a rapidly transforming world.

About NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business

The NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business (CSB) envisions a better world through better business. The Center was founded on the principle that sustainable business is good business — delivering better financial results while protecting the planet and its people. CSB aims to help current and future business leaders embrace proactive and innovative mainstreaming of sustainability, resulting in competitive advantage and resiliency for their companies as well as a positive impact for society. Visit the Center’s website and follow CSB on Twitter: @NYUSternCSB.

About IRI

IRI is a fast-growing, leading provider of big data, predictive analytics and forward-looking insights that help CPG, OTC health care organizations, retailers, and financial services and media companies grow their businesses. With the largest repository of purchase, media, social, causal and loyalty data, all integrated into an on-demand, cloud-based technology platform, IRI is empowering the personalization revolution, helping to guide its more than 5,000 clients around the world in their quests to remain relentlessly relevant, capture market share, connect with consumers, collaborate with key constituents and deliver market-leading growth. For more information, visit

IRI Contact:
Shelley Hughes
Phone: +1 312-731-1782

NYU Stern Public Affairs Contacts
Carolyn Ritter and Jeff Piascik

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