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NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business and IRI Launch New Sustainable Share Index™

An assortment of consumer packaged goods

New, seminal research shows that sustainability is driving market growth in CPGs

New, seminal research shows that sustainability is driving market growth in CPGs

NEW YORK CITY and DENVER: March 11, 2019:  Today, the NYU Stern School of Business Center for Sustainable Business and IRI® released the findings of a new U.S.-based study and established the Sustainable Share Index™, an in-depth analysis of consumer purchases of products that are marketed for their sustainable attributes.  The research finds that sustainability-marketed products are responsible for more than half of the growth in consumer packaged goods (CPGs) since 2013.

The research conducted by Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business found that sustainability-marketed products delivered 50.1% of market growth from 2013-2018 while representing 16.6% of the CPG market in dollar sales in 2018.  To conduct the research, Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business partnered with IRI, which contributed its comprehensive point-of-sale data on U.S. consumer purchases.  The Center analyzed data from across 36 product categories, representing approximately 40% of total CPG sales, excluding tobacco and alcohol.

“Across industries, companies are beginning to recognize that sustainable business is good business,” said Tensie Whelan, professor at NYU Stern and founding director of Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business. “Results from this research reinforce the idea that embracing sustainability leads to better business results. We are excited to launch the Sustainable Share Index and look forward to continuing our research in the years to come.”

Additional findings include:
  • Across all categories, sustainability-marketed products delivered $113.9B in sales in 2018; +29% vs. 2013 and are expected to grow to $140.5B by 2023, based on an extrapolation of the analysis.
  • Products marketed as sustainable grew 5.6x faster than conventionally-marketed products, and 3.3x faster than the CPG market.
  • In over 90% of individual product categories examined, the growth of sustainability-marketed products outpaced total category growth. 
  • Sustainability-marketed products account for 16.6% share of market ($) in 2018, up from 14.3% in 2013.
  • Sustainable products have more than 20% category share in many food categories, including natural cheese, salty snacks, and coffee. 

“CPG companies should take notice—the benefits of sustainability cannot be ignored,” said Randi Kronthal-Sacco, senior scholar, Marketing and Corporate Outreach, Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business, who led the research initiative. “In fact, this groundbreaking research shows the significant impact that sustainable products have on overall category growth.” 

"IRI is pleased to partner with NYU Stern's Center for Sustainable Business on this eye-opening study, and we're delighted to reveal the results publicly at this year’s IRI Growth Summit in Denver, where over 1,500 CPG and retail leaders will convene," said Robert I. Tomei, president, Market and Shopper Intelligence at IRI. "The results of this research show that sustainable products play a key role in consumer decision-making and we know this is particularly important to Millennials and Generation Z.”

About New York University Stern School of Business
New York University Stern School of Business, located in the heart of Greenwich Village, is one of the nation’s premier management education schools and research centers. NYU Stern, whose faculty includes four Nobel Laureates in Economics, offers a broad portfolio of programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels, all of them enriched by the dynamism, energy and deep resources of one of the world’s business capitals. Visit www.stern.nyu.edu and follow NYU Stern on Twitter: @NYUStern.

About NYU Stern’s 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 on Twitter: @NYUSternCSB.

About IRI
IRI is a leading provider of big data, predictive analytics, and forward-looking insights that help CPG, OTC health care organizations, retailers, financial services, and media companies grow their businesses. A confluence of major external events — a change in consumer buying habits, big data coming into its own, advanced analytics and personalized consumer activation — is leading to a seismic shift in drivers of success in all industries. With the largest repository of purchase, media, social, causal, and loyalty data, all integrated on 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 www.iriworldwide.com.